Thoughts from the halfway point

Let me preface this by saying that my first thought is that I definitely realize this half was the easy half, and I know what’s coming is going to get much harder.

Still, I didn’t want the first half of marathon training to pass without any fanfare. So, in no particular order…

I should have booked a hotel when I registered. I don’t really know why I didn’t think to do this. At first I thought I’d invite myself to stay with our friends who live in Philly, but I decided I’ll probably be a nervous wreck the night before the longest run of my life and maybe not everyone wants to go to bed at 8pm. Also, it seemed unfair to place the logistics of getting to a very important starting line before 7am on anyone else.

So, I looked into hotels, and everything is booked. No joke. I was prepared to walk up to a mile to the start, but there’s nothing left within 5 miles. I guess this race is a bigger deal than I thought! I have this bad habit of assuming any city outside of NYC is piddling, and that’s so obviously not the case.

I used public transportation in Chicago, and it worked perfectly. I don’t know what the transportation situation is in Philly, so I’m planning on calling a cab, but I’ve been reading recaps where people describe the cab situation messy at best, so we’ll see if I can figure out a better option before race day.

Also, hotels are expensive yo! I’m spending more on a hotel I’ll barely sleep in than I’m spending on the race. Yikes. I briefly considered driving in that morning, but that’s crazy talk, so I reserved a room at a perfectly lovely looking Wyndham.

I wish I had built a better base leading into training. I picked now to run the marathon because I feel like it’s a good time in my life, but I wasn’t exactly prepared. I really wish I had focused on strength training my lower body leading into marathon training. I was all arms, arms, arms leading up to the wedding (and they do look pretty sweet in the pics) but every weak muscle in my legs was highlighted in the half marathon, and I just don’t know if I’ve got the time left to build the muscles I need before race day. I am going to try though.

I’m so glad I went to that witch doctor. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop with my stomach, and I’m sure I’m jinxing myself by writing this, but other than the usual “OMG why are you still running??” complaints from my stomach, things have been so good. I keep thinking back to my Chicago half training when I would “eat” ONLY liquids the day before and day of a long run just to keep my stomach troubles at bay. Those were dark days.

Running is so stinking mental. I mean, duh, but it’s really hit me this time around. I treat 12 miles like it’s nothing because mentally I know I can do it, but I was a little stressed to run just 1.1 miles further because mentally I viewed it as a race and therefore somehow different. I’ve been panicking about 15 miles because it’s so unknown, but really it’s only 3 more miles than a “nothing” 12 miler. I’m trying really hard to keep my mental game tight and focus on the present moment or mile as it were.

I eat all the time. No comment on that really. I just eat a lot these days. I try and keep it healthy during the week, which is easier because I only bring healthy food to work. Everything by my office costs 150% more than it should so the cheapskate in me is good at sticking to the food I brought. On the weekends though, I pretty much just graze all day.

Conversely, I can’t ever eat when I want to. I’ll spend 12 miles fantasizing about a cheeseburger then finish and only have the stomach for a piece of toast. I do need a diet coke after every long run though. I NEED it.

Training is a bit of a time suck thus far. I have no idea how people with kids do it. I have it relatively easy. I work a pretty standard 8.5 hour day though 3 daily hours of commuting means I’m out of the house for 11.5 hours a day. I’ve always worked out after work, so my shorter mid week runs aren’t too much of a deviation from my normal schedule. I can usually wrap those up by 7:45 and be sitting down to dinner between 8:15-8:30.

The mid-mids are a little tougher. I’m luckily if I eat dinner by 9 and even that is with a frozen meal or takeout that I don’t have to cook. I’m kind of a stickler about getting 8 hours of sleep, so I really try to go to bed at 10. Eating dinner and going immediately to bed kind of sucks.

I miss my husband and feel badly about barely seeing him those days. Aside from monthly book club, I’m pretty serious about not scheduling my weeknights though so usually one late night a week isn’t too bad.

I can manage to feed the dog and take her out to go to the bathroom before I run, and Chris has been walking her which is wonderful. I don’t know how people with kids do it. I guess they sleep less and run faster. More power to ya parents!

Conversely (again), making myself a priority had been an awesome experience. Saying no to potential commitments I wasn’t really into in the first place because it would interfere with training has been so great. I have such a bad habit of saying yes to things immediately then dreading them and regretting my decision when the actual event comes up. Now, I just say no and do what I want to do and feel so much better.

Also, there are days where other parts of my life are vying for my attention, but forcing myself to ignore them (unless they’re critical) so I can get this training done has been a wonderful reminder that the world continues to spin even if laundry doesn’t get folded as soon as it’s done and work emails don’t get answered until work hours resume.

Gear matters. Go figure, right? Running is such a bare bones sport. I mean all you really need are sneakers, a sports bra, a top, shorts and socks. I’ve always fallen into the “don’t overthink it” camp. When I started running I used to literally roll out of bed and run in whatever I slept in plus sports bra and sneakers. So legit cotton tees and shorts. Obviously, the more you do anything the more you learn, and I’ve learned that sweat wicking fabric is worth every penny and sneakers probably need to bet replaced yearly.

I got fitted at a runner store (Road Runner I think?) when I first started running seriously in 2009. At the time, Mizuno Wave Rider (12?) was MY shoe. And I stuck with it for a while just buying the new iteration. And it worked. Then, Mizuno made some big changes to the shoe with the 16, and I did not love it. But I was all, “I’m a pro.” So I just “researched” and went with Brooks Ghosts. Brooks has a little widget on their website where you can input the shoe you’re in and they’ll give you the Brooks version. Anyway, they worked, but I didn’t love them either.

This time around, I wanted to try a variety of shoes before buying so I went to our local running store (Westfield Running Company) with the intention of trying a few then buying a pair online with some Zappos credits I had. Well, of course, everyone there had to go and be all dang helpful and super informed and blow my sneaky plan. Kidding of course. The guys there were wonderful. They measured my foot, talked to me about how I run and what my goals are and analyzed my gait by videotaping me running on a treadmill.

We learned a few things. First, the Ghost was not the perfect shoe for me. Unlike most runners whose feet roll in when they run (pronate) mine roll out (supinate). Because this is a little rarer, I need a different kind of shoe. The rolling out is caused by tight hips which are caused by my awkward gait. It’s kind of a chicken and egg thing. The guy suggested I stretch and roll a lot which I sorta suspected, but he did say the shoes would help or at least not work against me like my old shoes did.

The next big issue came up when I mentioned that my old shoes always felt like they were rubbing my arches. My arches would always be burning by the end of a run, and I just assumed it was due to being in the wrong size (I was also wearing a half size too big. I’m so pro). The guy immediately was like, “Oh well that’s because you have flat feet. Your arches aren’t rubbing anything they’re totally collapsing with each step. Do your toes clench when you run?” And I was like, “Dude, get out of my brain.” Apparently, my poor feet were scrambling to get purchase in the shoes after my arches collapsed. Color me surprised.

Mr. Sneaker Genius put me in a pair or custom insoles and it was a game changer. He actually just put one in and had my run around the store. My other arch immediately started aching while the supported one was fine. Insane.

So, my new shoes with custom insoles are the Brooks Dyad 8.

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I can confidently say I would never have arrived at this shoe on my own. They’re kinda heavy and they look like shoes for the elderly. Well, they feel amazing, and I run like the elderly, so it’s a match made in heaven. Obviously, I bought them from the store because seriously how jerk would it have been not to? Now, I’m much poorer than I’d like to be, but hopefully it’ll pay off in an injury free training cycle.

Also (because this post isn’t long enough), I learned that Old Navy sports bras which feel supportive at 5 miles do not feel supportive at 12 miles. Ouch. It was high time I invested in a decent sports bra, so I figured I’d throw those Zappos credits towards a real Moving Comfort bra.

I’d heard good things about Reddit – A bra that fits, so I used their calculator and after taking 5 (!!) different measurements found out that I have been wearing the wrong bra size for a while. Like by a lot. I’ve been guestimating a 34C when it turns out I’m actually a 32DD which sounds better than it is. I can’t even explain how cool this was. If you wear bras, check this out!

Ok. That’s quite enough talk about nothing. Thanks for listening to my rambles.

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