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Archive for the ‘Half Marathon’ Category

13.1 done and done! :D  Yesterday I ran the ODDyssey Half Marathon through Fairmount Park in Philadelphia.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I didn’t end up achieving my goal of a sub-2 hour half.  I’m not going to lie – I was pretty bummed about that.  But I know I gave it my all, got to hang out with some new friends and learned a lot about struggling through a race…something I never experienced before.

I woke up bright and early at 4:45am ready to go.  Waking up before a race is never a problem for me.  I literally bounce out of bed, ready to put on my clothes.

I drank a bottle of water, ate breakfast (two slices of whole wheat toast, half a banana and 2T almond butter) and was at the race by 6:15am.

I also met up with fellow bloggers, Leslie and Lauren.  This was Lauren’s first half(!) and Leslie was brave enough to run this race without an iPod.  To say I was impressed is an understatement.

Around 7:15, the announcer finally told us to start making our way to the starting line.  With only about 600 people, we were lined up and ready to go in no time.  After a simple “On your mark…get set…GO!” we were off!

Miles 1-6Leslie, Lauren and I ran side by side.  We chatted a bit, but I was so focused on my pace that I probably wasn’t the best company (sorry girls!).  We kept a great pace of a little over 9 minute miles. At the turnaround point, a little before we hit 6 miles, we split up and I was on my own for the second half the race.

Mile 7:  I started to feel really hot at this point.  It was humid out and my coconut water/water combo was so warm (note to self – always add ice!).  I finished my bottle and refilled at a water station…but that water was warm, too!  I got through this mile but started to feel a little weak.  Not a good sign with 5 miles left.

Mile 8:  My legs started to hurt – a lot.  I’m not sure where it came from and thankfully it’s nothing serious because they don’t hurt now, but I was pretty frustrated at the time.  This mile crawled by.  My attitude took a turn for the worse.  I just kept thinking “how am I going to run 5 more miles?!”  Usually, I find that long runs are relaxing (even during races)…but racing against my Garmin was not fun.  Somehow, this mile proved to be one of my fastest miles…which just goes to show that running is so mental.

Miles 9-11:  I think I listened to Glee’s version of “Like a Prayer” seven times.  It was the only thing getting me through.  My attitude from mile 8 came and went.  I was still on pace to finish just under 2 hours, so I kept pushing myself.  Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever pushed myself as much as I did for these three miles.  (Side note – the volunteers were excellent at this race and were there to give out high fives and encouraging words the entire time :) )

Mile 12:  Almost there!  If I could just gather enough energy to make my last mile my fastest, I’d reach my goal!  Not so much :(  The entire last mile was a hill.  According to my Garmin, we climbed 237 feet.  I just compared it to ‘Harlem Hills’ in Central Park.  Those hills are only 180 feet.  Crazy.  And so I walked.  Five times.  I was pretty emotional at this point…everything hurt, I knew I wasn’t going to reach my goal or be able to sprint to the finish line.  I finally crossed the finish line in 2:02:08…and crashed.

I quickly regrouped and was able to watch both Lauren and Leslie cross the finish line.  Lauren – congrats on your first half!! And Leslie – like I said before – you’re a machine for running 13.1 miles without an iPod and minimal training…and a big race next weekend.  So impressed.  Here we are with our “finisher’s pint glass.”  I loved getting this instead of a medal!

My splits:

  • 1 – 9:11
  • 2 – 9:01
  • 3 – 9:09
  • 4 – 9:13
  • 5 – 8:54
  • 6 – 9:17
  • 7 – 9:12
  • 8 – 9:02
  • 9 – 9:03
  • 10 – 9:11
  • 11 – 9:13
  • 12 – 9:11
  • 13 – 10:03
  • 13.25 – 2:28 (according to my Garmin, the route with slightly longer than 13.1)

So now it’s been a day and I’ve had some time to think about what happened during this race.  I realized I let my Garmin rule my run.  Like I said before, I love running because I find it therapeutic.  I love to listen to my music, be outside and accomplish things I never thought possible.  Setting a new PR is definitely an accomplishment…but so is running a half marathon in itself.  I’m not a competitive person.  When I was on the tennis team in high school, I enjoyed hanging out with my friends, casually hitting balls on a nice day and flirting with the cute instructor much more than I ever did winning a match.  I just don’t have the competitive gene.  But I made this race a competition against myself, which took the pleasure out of it for me.

There is a part of me that’s happy this happened now.  I imagine there will be points during marathon training and the marathon itself when I’ll feel like wanting to stop.  I’m happy I was able to push through the pain and finish the race.

I think in the future, I’m going to continue to work on speed because I still want to improve.  But come race day…whatever happens, happens.  I’m going to enjoy my run :)

After my post-race eats and treats yesterday, I drove down the shore, caught the sunset on the way down, and drank some celebratory bottles glasses of wine with friends.

I even got to stop at a farmers’ market on the way home today where I picked up a few items for a BBQ with my family tomorrow.  Get ready for some delicious food!

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At 7am tomorrow morning, I’ll be taking off among a sea (pond?) of 800 people at the ODDyssey Half Marathon in Philadelphia’s Fairmont Park alongside Leslie and possibly a few other Philly bloggers.  Originally, I was planning on setting a time goal of under 2 hours – and my last training run proved to me that I can do it – but I may have to adjust my plans in the morning if this forecast is correct

I’m letting myself be sad about this potential rain…but only tonight.  Whatever the weather is in the morning, I’m going to go out there, rock out and have an amazing time.

In preparation for tomorrow, this past week I ate clean, upped the carbs, and hydrated hydrated hydrated.  I learned from my first two half’s that there’s really no need to carb-load the night before a race; instead I found it’s better for me to just incorporate more carbs into my diet throughout the week prior.  Easy enough, right?  ;)

I’ve actually really been itching to run all week.  I know it’s best to “trust the taper,” but I find the week before a big race so hard.  All I wanted to do was run.  I’m hoping all of my bottled energy is released during the race tomorrow!

So about the race itself…  There are a few ODD things that set it apart from other races I’ve done:

  1. Costumes are not only welcomed, they’re encouraged.
  2. There will be “obstacles” along the course.  These are optional, but should make the run pretty entertaining.
  3. And finally, according to the website, “All finishers will receive an official ODDyssey Half Marathon pint glass.  Finisher’s medals sit in a drawer; use our prize to toast your victory!”

Any race that encourages celebratory drinks is my kind of race :D

I’m staying in Philly tonight so I can be closer to the race in the morning.  I packed everything I’ll need – although that shirt might be switched to black in the am if this weather forecast holds ;)  I have my clothing, hat, socks, shoes, water bottle, garmin, iPod, two Clif gels and body glide…

…and my pre-race fuel of whole wheat bread, almond butter, a banana, and rhubarb jam from the Union Square Farmers’ market (I know, it’s quite fancy for 5am).  Plus two bottles of coconut water – one to drink during the race, and one to have for after if necessary.

And my pre-race dinner?  Pizza from Stephen Starr’s Pizzeria Stella.  That would be the Tartufo on top and Margherita on the bottom.

The Tartufo was incredible.  It is made with black truffles(!), fontina and parmesan cheese and a fresh hard boiled egg broken in front of you.  I had two pieces of the Tartufo and one Margherita.  

Later in the evening I met some friends for frozen yogurt at Scoop de Ville.  Now I’m stuffed, my glycogen levels are maxed out and I’m ready for bed.  Night!!!

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I’ve been in NY for the past two nights to take advantage of this short week between my spring and summer semesters.  Philly is certainly growing on me – and I can’t wait to explore some more – but New York will always hold a special place in my heart.  I visited the farmers’ market in Union Square (recap coming soon!), spent time with some of my favorite people and completed my last long run before the half next week in Central Park.  This is so fitting for me because Central Park was where I first left the comfort of the treadmill and started to run outside.  I left you hanging on My Road to Running – and I’ll expand on that soon – but I’ll just say that Central Park plays a big part in it.

As I entered the park today, I was feeling pretty good.  Remember when you were a kid and your parents took you to the best playground in town? You know the one – it had the longest slide, the highest monkey bars and the biggest sandbox.  Well, today, that’s what Central Park felt like to me.

I think it was meant to be that I only did 2 miles on Tuesday because my legs felt very ready to run.  I mentioned before that my goal is to get under 2 hours (my PR right now is 2:00:32, which is a 9:13 min/mile)…and after today, I believe it’s possible.  I finished 12 miles in 1:49:09 with an average pace of 9:05.

My splits:

1   – 9:32
2   – 9:10
3   – 9:31  (hills!)
4   – 9:09
5   – 9:07
6   – 9:10
7   – 9:02
8   – 8:54
9   – 9:00
10 – 8:42
11 – 9:19  (hills!)
12 – 8:28

I was happy to see that I met my goal of running negative splits, which I always have a hard time doing.  Negative splits basically means you finish the second half of the run faster than the first.  This is a great goal to have so you don’t burn out too early and can cross the finish line strong.  The two miles where my pace slowed included the “Harlem Hills” on the upper west corner of the park.  If you’ve ever run here, you know these hills are HARD…I know they’re good for training, but I curse them the entire way up.   I made up for those hills by doing a loop around the Reservior – the flattest 1.5 miles in the park ;).

Central Park, thank you for…

  • your canopy of trees that keep me cool on even the hottest days
  • your well placed water fountains
  • your bathrooms (well, these could use some work…)
  • your endless running routes
  • your hills (I curse you, but I love what you do for my legs)

Question:  Do you have a favorite running route or one that holds sentimental value?

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In about two hours, I’ll be up in Central Park running around the 6 mile loop twice to complete my last long run before the half next Saturday.  While the last long run before a race probably won’t help much with endurance, I mentally need it to know I can get to the finish line.  Central Park is super hilly, but my goal is to run negative splits and finish strong.  Hopefully my Garmin will work in the park!  NYC is notorious for bad reception because of the tall buildings.

For pre-run fuel, I’m currently munching on half of a huge bran muffin with peanut butter.  I bought the muffin at the market yesterday along with some other goodies (expect a market recap soon!).  I’m also bringing two Clif gel shots and a water bottle filled with half coconut water and half regular water.

You’ll probably notice over the next few months that coconut water is my drink of choice before, during and after long runs.  Last year when I started training for my first half, I learned a few things through trial and error.  For instance, I learned that running socks make a difference, Body Glide is my hero and those abstract things called electrolytes are real and necessary to function properly.  I never liked the taste of Gatorade (plus, I question why HFCS needs to be in a sports drink) so I had to find another way to replenish electrolytes.  Enter coconut water…100% pure coconut water.  There are a ton of different brands – Vita-Coco, O.N.E., ZICO – which you can find next to the sports drinks in your local grocery store.  As “nature’s sports drink” it boasts 5 essential electrolytes, 60mg sodium, 25mg magnesium and 670mg potassium (15x more than a banana)!  These minerals work together to prevent fatigue, muscle cramping and dehydration.

Honestly though, it doesn’t matter much to me what a product claims if it doesn’t work.  But I promise you – coconut water works.  Whenever I drink it and go for a long run (8+ miles), I don’t get that sluggish “I-just-want-to-lay-on-my-couch-for-the-rest-of-the-day” feeling.  I also find that I don’t get the ravenous hunger that longer runs can cause.  Trust me, I still get hungry…but not in the same way.  For any non-runners out there, I can also vouch for its ability to ease stomach sickness and cure hangovers after one too many glasses of wine ;).

Okay, enough about me and my love for coconut water!  Have you ever tried it and felt the effects?

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As part of my training plan for the ODDyssey Half Marathon, which I am running in two weeks, I ran a relaxing 11 miles around the Kelly Drive loop in Philadelphia today.  It was my first time running the entire loop, which spans from the Art Museum all the way to Falls Bridge.  I ran with Leslie, who I first met at the blogger/reader meet up at Garce’s Trading Co. a few weeks back (which was organized by both Leslie and Sabrina – you can read about the meet up here).  The weather was perfect – 64 degrees and a completely clear sky – the type of day that makes me feel lucky that I run so I have a reason to spend time outside exploring a new area :).

I’ve only ever done an out and back route along Kelly Drive, but with Leslie leading the way, I was excited to cover new ground.  Around mile 5, we even ran up the Art Museum steps…talk about a workout!  I definitely started to regret those steps around mile 9.  It makes me think it might be a good idea to incorporate them into my “hill training” for the marathon!  We ran the 11 miles at about a 9:33 pace and finished in 1:45.  Between the fact that we talked the entire way and stopped at a few spots along the way to take pictures, I feel really good about this time.

During the run, I was already thinking about what to make for dinner.  I remembered a bottle of open marinara sauce and suddenly started craving pizza.  I quickly stopped at Whole Foods and was pleasantly surprised that the woman manning the pizza counter in the “Market” area was willing to give me a ball of their homemade whole wheat pizza dough for $3!  The only problem was that it was frozen and I only had 2 hours until dinner…


With a quick Google search, I found that all you need to do to defrost dough (without affecting the yeast) is put it inside a sealed bag and submerge it in hot water.  It took about 30 minutes for the dough to completely defrost.


I used a recipe out of Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave, one of my favorite cookbooks.  Ellie Krieger is an R.D. (you might recognize her Food Network show “A Healthy Appetite”) who promotes a healthy relationship with food by never sacrificing flavor in her recipes. She believes in whole foods, fresh ingredients and reasonable portions.


I chose to make her Mushroom, Onion and Basil Pizza, but doubled the recipe since I had so much pizza dough to use…great for leftovers!  I portioned out the ingredients before getting started.


While rolling out the dough, I cooked the mushrooms and onions with 2T olive oil from the sun-dried tomato jar, in order to add some extra flavor.


Although not as flavorful, I used minced garlic from a jar since it’s what I had on hand…and I’m pretty sure I quadrupled the amount.  You can never have too much garlic, right? ;)


Next I layered the ingredients on the pizza – sauce, mushroom and onion mixture, sun-dried tomatoes, freshly grated part-skim mozzarella cheese and then parmesan.  I put these in the oven for 16 minutes at 460 – a bit longer than the recipe suggests.


While the pizza was in the oven, I threw together Sabrina’s White Bean Crostini – minus the crostini – over arugula with a garlic olive oil vinaigrette and parmesan cheese on top.  This was DELICIOUS and so easy to make! I chose to make this because it used many of the ingredients used in the pizza, plus a few I always have on hand, such as tomatoes and a can of cannelloni beans.  I can’t wait to have the leftovers tomorrow!


The pizza turned out amazing.  We each added our own sea salt, red peppers flakes and garlic to taste and paired it with a bottle of Chianti and some (unpictured) strawberries for dessert. This was the perfect dinner after an 11 mile run :).

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