I don't even remember when it started, but I made a mental "bucket list" of races that I wanted to accomplish some day. Some people want to run New York, or maybe L.A., but I wanted to run Chicago. Why? I honestly don't know. Out of the big marathons, I wanted to see this city that I had heard so much about, but had never experienced for myself (unless you count a layover in O'Hare Airport).
In November 2016, the Chicago Marathon lottery opened. One night, I decided that I might as well apply and see what happened. I told my husband (since he would need to be on board if I got in), and waited until the emails were released in December. (It was also an option to run for charity, but knowing that we had just adopted my daughter and asked for financial assistance for that, I did not feel led to sign up for a charity fundraiser so that I could run a marathon.) The day came, and I received my acceptance email...and directions to send money and complete my registration. I was all signed up to run the Chicago Marathon!
After registering, I put everything about the race on the back burner. I was dedicating my spring training cycle to getting prepared for my first ultra marathon: a 50K trail race in Ohio. I also had the Pittsburgh Marathon slated before that, as a "training run." So, not much time to think about Chicago. I completed the spring races and thoroughly enjoyed the accomplishments there, but a spring and summer full of travel delayed my training for a while. I kept thinking I had time to start training, and then all of a sudden, it was July, and I had to get back on the ball!
I started officially marathon training in August 2017. 8 weeks from race day. No, I would not suggest this kind of plan. Since I am an avid runner and cross-trainer, most people said I was in good enough shape to adapt to a shorter training cycle, but I knew I would not have the kind of results I wanted because of the tight schedule. Nevertheless, I dedicated my weekdays and Saturdays (and some back-to-back runs) to getting my mileage up. By the end of August, I ran my 18-mile training run, and then did 20 miles the day of Air Force Half Marathon, though the miles were split up a bit because of that race. And one, broken 20 was not the same as multiple 20+ mile runs I had done for spring ultra training. And I felt it.
Aside from the short training, I still did the best that I could with the time I had. Coming into race day, I was definitely more nervous, but I was trying to give myself grace for the season it was. I had some traveling surrounding this race, as well, and even a last-minute change to my marathon weekend plans. Originally, my husband and children were going to make the 6.5 hour drive with me to the Windy City on Friday, sightseeing scheduled for Saturday, and then the race on Sunday, with hubby helping to drive me home. Due to sickness, my family could not go up with me, and I ended up rooming with friends and going solo.
I left Saturday morning at 5am EST and arrived at 10:30am CST, with plenty of time to go to the expo. I easily got my bib and through the expo center and went to my hotel. My plan was to meet up with a few people I know through Facebook running groups, and run with one friend I had met online, Dana. She messaged me and said that I could change corrals with my proof of time from Pittsburgh, giving us a 30-minute head start from our original corral. With the heat forecasted, that seemed like a good idea, so I tried not to get too lost in finding the shuttle back to the expo, and switching my bib.
The expo was large, but definitely comparable in size to Pittsburgh. The Abbott World Marathon Major Series was the showcase of the entire event. I never really thought about running Chicago because it is one of the world majors, I just wanted to see the city and I knew it was supposed to be one of the best race experiences! The lines were long to get pictures in front of different areas in the expo, and since I was going alone, I had a few pictures taken with the help of strangers, but that was about it. They did have a fantastic video of the course, sped up to show each mile and it was awesome to watch. Everything was high-quality for sure. I was surprised that there were very few interactive booths or samples, mostly just "store" set ups, so you were urged to buy more. Definitely not an expo my family would have enjoyed, so it's a good thing I could just get in and get out!
There was no rest for the weary on Saturday, with going to the expo twice, and then trying to meet up with Dana and her friend, Jennifer that afternoon. We had a little time together before heading to eat dinner, and then I made my way back to my hotel for the night. Thankfully, I was able to get to bed by 9pm and the hotel was very close to the starting corrals!
Dana and I met up at the hotel and walked to the starting area. Security was high, especially due to recent events in Las Vegas, and it took a while to be individually scanned before entering the next area. Our start time was 8:00am and it was already warm. We thought about waiting for a porta-potty near the entrance, but decided to head closer to the huge area of porta-potties, thinking the lines would move faster. Well, they didn't, and 10 minutes before our corral closed, we gave up.
Throughout our training (Dana having 18 weeks and a run coach, and me having 8 weeks and well....me), we had watched each other get faster and we were running similar times. So, it wasn't long before we realized we had the same goal for this race, and it would be fun to run together as long as we could. The great thing about runners is that we get it. We are not offended if we don't stick together. We bless and release if someone needs to go faster or slower. So... our plan was to just run, enjoy, and see what happened.
The first few miles were far less crowded than I anticipated. In Pittsburgh, the half, full, and relay runners are all starting together, making it very difficult to run pace, just because you are afraid to step on someone. In Chicago, it was only the full marathon, and the crowd of runners was more manageable, even though there were more runners all together. I think they just had more corrals and spaced it well. We talked the first few miles and already felt the heat. I LOVED the tour of the city and staying in the downtown area allowed us to be shaded and have a slight breeze for quite a while. I am very grateful we moved up and started when we did. By Mile 5 we were running happy, even on pace for what Dana had wanted. Pace is a funny thing in Chicago because the buildings don't allow for accurate satellite reception, and our Garmins were off the entire time, but she seemed happy, so I just stuck with her.
I hate to keep comparing it to Pittsburgh, but I had trained really well for that race last spring, and I set a hilly PR I was hoping to break at a flat course in Chicago. My game plan for Pittsburgh was a sub-2-hour half marathon (9:09 pace), and then taking the second half at 10-11 min/mile pace, knowing I naturally slow down on the back end. (My plan worked pretty well and I had a PR of 4:22 in my hometown.) Dana trained to hit 10s the whole way, even speeding up her second half. So, different strategies, but I just went with the flow, knowing that a sub-2 half wasn't going to be in the cards for this race.
The water stops were about every mile on the course. Thousands of volunteers made it really well-done. Gatorade and water lined the road on both sides. I had eaten my dried fruit before the race even started, so I didn't have much fuel on me, other than my little bottle of Sword hydration. I kept running through the stops until the end of the water line and would grab a cup of water each time (knowing how the Gatorade hurt my stomach at Air Force Half a few weeks before). Dana had a handheld bottle, she would have the volunteers fill up, so we would eventually catch each other somewhere after each stop. We did a kind of back-and-forth, look-for-each-other dance for quite a while.
Mile 10, 11, 12, 13...we made it half-way. It was HOT. No where near a sub-2, but still pretty close to 10-min/mile. I was trying to keep hydrated. I was getting hungry. I wondered why there were no GU gels or anything at Mile 6 like I envisioned there would be. Didn't they know I had no fuel on me? Somewhere after the half, the volunteers gave out Gatorade Endurance Energy Chews. I was so thankful, and a little nervous about trying something new, but I knew I needed some fuel. I took one and some water, and thanked God that I had pockets in my skirt to keep the rest for later. Around Mile 14 was the last time I saw Dana. We lost each other at a water stop and never found each other until the finish line. It was okay. My stomach was starting to hurt, and I needed to find a porta-potty.
I started praying for a porta-potty area, which it seemed were about every 2-3 miles. At Mile 15, I saw there were signs for some, and I stopped off and texted Dana that I likely wouldn't catch up at that point. I wish I could say that solved all my stomach issues, but they continued until about Mile 19. That's where I stopped AGAIN to use the bathroom! I couldn't believe it! And then, by this point, we were far from shade or breeze, so the sun was beating down. It was miserable. I knew my 4:20 goal was long gone. At one point I thought maybe 4:30...then 4:45 wouldn't be so bad...then, I was just calculating if I could even break 5 hours.
During marathons, things start to "hurt" but you aren't even sure if it's real. You distract your mind to think of something else. I had an issue with my right shoe around Mile 8 or so, and I kept trying to adjust the tongue, my sock, anything to make the rubbing go away (even though I had slathered on Glide before the race). Other times, I thought my hips were bugging me, or my tendonitis, and on and on. The shoe thing lasted a few miles, but I just kept telling myself it was all in my head and I was fine.
Miles 20-26 were tough. That's when you dig deep for sure. I questioned why I do this. Why do I run full marathons? Halfs are way more manageable. They don't hurt like this. The crowd support was totally amazing. I was wondering if I was going crazy, seeing the same signs again, but now I'm sure they were just family/friends moving around the course to cheer on their runner multiple times. But in the moment, I was like, "I saw that sign before...hmmmm..."
There were cheer squads all over the different neighborhoods. My personal favorite was earlier in the race. It was a mob of orange and white shirts for World Vision. They were all standing in a median in the street and I just LOVED their energy! Other favorites were the Mexicans, Japanese, and going through Chinatown. And yes, I have a favoritism towards Asians, since my daughter is Chinese. I can't explain it, but it was just comforting to see them there.
At some point, they started giving small cuts of bananas out around the water stops. At one of them, I saw orange peels on the side of the road and thought about how AMAZING an orange would be. Unfortunately, all the super fast people must have eaten them all, because only bananas were being given. I was CRAVING an orange then. And honestly PRAYING for an orange or watermelon (and I've had both on other courses before...heaven!). Eventually, we came up on the Korean cheer section, and I was pleasantly distracted by a guy dancing in the street to the music (he looked like he was probably a runner himself, but just cheering that day). He was super funny and awesome and it made me smile when I wanted to die a little inside. Out of nowhere, I saw a sweet Korean girl handing out half of a mandarin orange!!!! YES!!! I grabbed it from her and said, "GOD BLESS YOU!" and savored every bite! There was a lady who passed me and said, "You don't know how long I've been waiting for an orange!" and I replied, "Oh, I know! I've been PRAYING for one, too!" So, moral of the story...if you ever cheer a race....bring oranges. We will love you.
Usually by the later miles, I'm trying very poorly to calculate and do mental math. For this race, it was already 77 degrees and full sun, and I was trying to survive. I decided that to be mad about my time was useless. I was in CHICAGO! At a World Major! I was going to ENJOY it. I got the BEST tour of that beautiful city, and I was going to FINISH no matter what. The only thing making me upset was myself. No need for that. Disappointed? Yes, but mad at myself? No.
The crowds got thicker with the last few miles. Everyone seemed to be struggling around me. I asked many people I found hobbling if they were okay, and they all said yes, but didn't want to engage with me, so I kept going. There were medic areas around the course, and the later ones were definitely being used quite a bit. I was focused on finishing, but found out afterwards that there were so many who did not cross that line. I knew the last mile had an uphill and then it would be done. I was determined to muster up everything I had left and run that entire last mile. Even if my run was no faster than a power walk, I was running that last long mile. And I did.
I saw the finish line and it took everything in me not to bust into full-blown tears.
I did it. I ran the Chicago Marathon.
I had no one there to hug me. My time didn't matter. My Garmin said I had run 27 miles. The finishing area was huge and you just had to keep walking to get to the water, medals, pictures, and snack bags. I felt like I was delirious and in a daze to get my medal, but I found some other Sparkle Skirt-wearing ladies and decided to go to them to have my medal put on. Something about having that medal around your neck. Oh, man! It just reminds you that....YOU DID IT!
I texted Dana to find out where she was, and we found each other while in the finishing area. She had finished about 10 minutes before me, and then we found Jennifer, too. Pictures, fake smiles, real smiles, exhaustion, stretching. I had grabbed a couple bags of ice for my knees at the finish area (mostly because I always ice after runs), and carried those bad boys around while we made our way through the shoot. All of us had missed our goals...by a lot... but we all FINISHED. And no one can take that away.
After making our way back to the hotel, we said good-byes, I got slowly got my stuff together, got a shower, and headed out to leave the city. I got back to my car and realized I was finally hungry. I only wanted to do a couple things while in Chicago, one of which was to eat Chicago-style deep dish pizza. So, I called a place that looked closer to the interstate, and ordered myself a personal pie to go. By the time I arrived there and was able to leave the city, it was 4pm CST.
Through many many prayers, phone calls with anyone who would talk to me, and a personal Chicago-style pizza, venti Starbucks coffee, and Jesus, I finally made it home at 1am EST.
The Chicago Marathon is one I will never forget. I can see why it is so highly-rated, and honored. It is a tremendous race with amazing people and a beautiful city. While I think I can say this is a "one and done" race, I hope to return to the Windy City again soon. The midwest hospitality was wonderful, and....well...I'm pretty sure I need more of that pizza in my life.
Wouldn't it be awesome if we all naturally craved fruits and vegetables? In real life, though, eating healthy is hard. If it doesn't taste good, kids won't eat it. And if it's not healthy, you don't want them to have it.
That's why there is Daily Sunshine, the whole-food-based 3-in-1 smoothie formulated for kids’ nutritional needs. Now you and your kids have a quick, healthy alternative to junk-food snacks—that also tastes delicious.
You don't have to be a gourmet chef to prepare a healthy snack. Daily Sunshine is so convenient and delicious just mixed in water. With the perfect balance of a fruit and veggie blend, plant-based protein, fiber, and fat, it's ideal for kids' after-school snacks, your mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or the whole family's midnight cookie cravings.
Check it out:
Check out our label. These are real ingredients you can recognize. Simple, organic fruit and vegetable blend, plant-based protein, and healthy fats, plus a few other ingredients everyone needs to help support optimal nutrition.
Daily Sunshine is made with key whole-food-based ingredients. It starts with whole fruits and vegetables, which are carefully inspected and thoroughly washed. Then they're pureed, strained to remove any unwanted seeds and stems, dried, and ground to a powder. That's how we deliver whole-food-based ingredients in a healthy, delicious smoothie every day. And that is EXACTLY what this mom wants to hear!
But aren't you the one who drinks Shakeology? What makes Daily Sunshine different? Glad you asked!
Shakeology is a complex formula with botanicals, adaptogens, exotic superfoods, prebiotics, digestive enzymes and other important nutrients. Daily Sunshine was designed and formulated for kids - in addition to a kid-approved taste, it provides the building blocks of nutrition that kids need every day - a fruit and veggie blend, protein, and healthy fats. It's also a wholesome, healthy snack for adults!
Want more information on getting this great option for YOUR kids? I know you will love it, but if you don't, you even have a 30-day money-back guarantee! Fill out the form below for more information:
Losing weight is not complicated. We MAKE it complicated. All kinds of marketing companies tell us you need to do low-fat, low-carb, no carb, micros, micros, ....how on EARTH are we supposed to know what to do?
We've been told "eat right and exercise" for years. The problem has never been the WHAT, it's always been the HOW. Instead of making it complicated by counting points, calories, or anything else, there is a whole system that uses whole foods (foods closest to the earth) and portion control (clearly defined amounts) to make eating EASY again. "Exercise" no longer equals "gym." Now, you can work out at home, outside, at the gym...anywhere!
So, if clearly defined systems are available to make it EASY, why do SO MANY people still struggle with being overweight? Now, it's not the HOW, but the WHY.
Too many of us are afraid to DARE.
We hold back out of FEAR. We don't want to open up, be vulnerable about our struggles, or ASK for help.
I'm about to make that part easier for you, too.
I had been doing some soul searching about belonging and vulnerability. God had been laying it on my heart that far too many of us are struggling with many areas of life ALONE. I was struggling, too. To be honest, I still do with certain things. BUT---health and fitness? I have found the answer. I have found BELONGING. It's all about doing life in community.
I became a coach to help other people get healthy, but not just in a 1:1 setting. I KNOW that God created us for community, so that is why I place such high emphasis on my accountability groups, that we call "challenge groups." Here is where my clients find that community. This is a SAFE place for all to open up about struggles, fears, concerns, and celebrate wins, small and large. Challenge groups create the environment that FREES us to DARE GREATLY....TOGETHER.
“We must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.”
“Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and thing, ’No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough’” (Brene Brown).
This is cultivated, not natural. People who feel this way have developed practices that enable them to hold onto this belief. Living a life defined by courage, compassion, and connection requires showing up and letting ourselves be seen. THIS is what can happen in an accountability group.
So, I definitely need support for my health and fitness journey. But, what exactly IS a "challenge group?" A challenge group is a place for like-minded people to work together to achieve their health and fitness goals. These private groups have a ton of SUPPORT, ENCOURAGEMENT, and all kinds of things to help you live the healthiest life possible! Recipes, daily tips and motivation, and a place to log your progress every single day, will keep you on track. This particular group will focus on DARING GREATLY TOGETHER and ways we can be more courageous. The group will be based on the "Daring Greatly" book by Brene Brown, but it is not required to participate. Be assured that you will also receive 1:1 coaching and support from ME every step of the way.
What is the time commitment for this group? The group will run for 5 weeks, with the first week set up as "prep week" to get you ready for the 4-week challenge, and we begin on Monday, October 23, 2017 (just FYI, it takes about one week to receive your materials for this group). You will learn what clean eating is, how to make a meal plan, grocery lists, and how to take "before" pictures and measurements so you can track your progress. There are no embarrassing weigh-ins and you can choose to send your "before" pictures just to me as your coach (to hold you accountable), or just keep them for yourself. The workouts vary in length (based on which program we will choose together, from 22-60 minutes, though most are around 30 minutes long).
What do I need? In order to participate in the challenge group, you will need to purchase a challenge pack. The All Access Beachbody On Demand Challenge Pack is by far the most popular option. It consists of 12-months of streaming EVERY fitness program in the Beachbody library (think Insanity, P90X, 21-Day Fix, PiYo, Core De Force, Shift Shop), portion control containers, shaker cup, AND your first month's supply of nutrient-dense Shakeology. Can you imagine getting a FULL YEAR of a gym membership, personal trainer, month of meals, meal plan, and personal coach? That would cost over $500 for sure! This All Access challenge pack is ON SALE right now, for $160! (While I mentioned the book, "Daring Greatly" at the beginning of this post, it is not required for this group. I do recommend it as a great read and helpful tool. Ask me about how you can get your copy FREE.)
What is Shakeology? Shakeology will be the healthiest meal of your day, packed with over 70 superfoods and absolutely NO artificial ingredients or fillers. There are even vegan options available! If you crave sweets, need energy, would like to have a ton of vitamins in a milkshake form, and FEEL GOOD about what you are putting into your body, this is it! I can't tell you how much EASIER my life has become with making a shake in minutes after a workout, to help me recover, or for an on-the-go breakfast. With three kids, who has time to eat a giant breakfast? I don't, but I get all the nutrition I need FAST with my Shakeo in hand! For more info click here.
(If you already have Shakeology, you can get All Access with the Beachbody Performance line instead, and REALLY be able to crush those workouts! Ask me for more details!)
“We need support. WE need folks who will let us try on new ways of being without judging us. We need a hand to pull us up off the ground when we get kicked down in the arena (and if we live a courageous life, that will happen).”
“I’m with you in the arena. And when we fail, we’ll fail together, while daring greatly.’ We simply can’t learn to be more vulnerable and courageous on our own. Sometimes our first and greatest dare is asking for support” (Brene Brown).
This message is for YOU...the one who needs a fresh start...the lonely...the one who wants to BELONG...the one who needs ENCOURAGEMENT and real support. This is for YOU, the one who doubts worthiness...the one who struggles with perfectionism...the one who has started and stopped and started over so many times you can't keep track. This is for YOU. Whoever you are...whatever struggles you are facing...the support and family is here to let you know...You. Are. Enough.
Now, let's DARE GREATLY, TOGETHER!
Thank you for your interest in this group. I will contact you within 24 hours of your application to get started!
My 1st Experience with 3-Day Refresh
How to do the 3-Day Refresh
My Husband's 3-Day Refresh Story
Popular Fitness Programs
21-Day Fix Extreme
22-Minute Hard Corps
Brazil Butt Lift
Core De ForceCountry Heat
P90X (P90X2, P90X3)
The Master's Hammer & Chisel
The Shift Shop
Need more information on Shakeology? What is this nutrient-dense meal replacement? Isn't it just a protein shake? Nope! I think what you see will surprise you! Watch this:
Superfood protein shake, Shakeology, was born out of a mission to nourish your body with the nutrients it needs and craves and is part of our ongoing quest to help people achieve their goals and live a healthy, fulfilling life. Join Isabelle Daikeler, co-creator of Shakeology, as she reveals what makes this shake so special.
Why drink Shakeology, rather than a cheaper shake? I asked the same question. When you do your research, you will find that QUALITY is the highest importance when it comes to health. This video answers a lot of the most frequently asked questions:
Turning Family Favorites into Clean Eating Meals
Clean Crockpot Crack Chicken
Clean Crockpot Chicken & Mushrooms
Clean Vegetarian Minestrone Soup
Clean Whole Wheat Pancakes
Crockpot Rotisserie Chicken
Eggroll in a Bowl
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
Homemade Whole Wheat Bread (Bread Machine)
Japanese Chicken Salad
Mama's Spaghetti Casserole
Paleo Sweet Potato Casserole
Roasted Pork with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Tomatoes
Shakeology Mug Cake
Simple Paleo Meatballs
Southwest Chicken Soup
The Best Pulled Pork in a Crockpot
Twice-Baked Super Secret Mashed Potatoes
Vegan Banana Pancakes
Whole Wheat Cranberry Bread
What IS a Challenge Group??
A challenge group is a place where people come together to cheer each other and work to meet their health and fitness goals TOGETHER! It's a positive, encouraging atmosphere with daily motivation and tips to keep you going! Everything is done through an exclusive app for challengers only. My accountability groups typically run 4-5 weeks, with the first week being all about how to get started with whole foods and taking measurements and grocery shopping lists and meal plans. You can literally "Start where you are" with my groups. No one is left out and everyone matters.
This is EXACTLY what makes my coaching unique in the health and fitness world. No other company offers 1:1 coaching and group support like ours. We truly care about you and want to help you reach your goals. I am with you every step of the way!
Ready to get started and have all the support you need?
Running & 21-Day Fix
Marshall University Half Marathon & PiYo
Bourbon Chase Ragnar Relay
Marshall University Half Marathon
Christmas on the Country Music Highway Half Marathon
Race Through the Fallen Timbers 15K Trail Race
St. Patty's Day Half Marathon
Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon
Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
Playin' Possum 50K
Air Force Half Marathon
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Indianapolis Monumental Half Marathon
Before you make it a lifestyle, make it a week! Get started on your way to long-lasting change - just take it one week at a time!
Beachbody's new Super Trainer, Megan Davies, will help you learn that you can achieve your goals one step at a time, with Clean Week! This is a 7-day total fitness and nutrition plan that'll take you step-by-step through the fundamentals of healthy living. With recipes and instructions for meal planning your week, plus a week's worth of Shakeology and workouts that include cardio, strength, core function, and flexibility, Clean Week gives you all the tools you need to stay consistent, lose weight, and gain the confidence that you can make these changes last!
What is included?
How do I access the workouts?
How can NON-All-Access members stream Clean Week?
Watch this video for a sneak peek:
Thank you for your interest in this 7-Day Clean Week challenge. I will contact you within 24 hours to help you get started!
Air Force Half Marathon took place on September 16, 2017 in Dayton, Ohio. This race was on my "racing bucket list" for some time, but because of cost or time of year, I had never run it before.
I found out about this race at the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon Expo, and the medals were always impressive. Last year, I decided that I would put it on my calendar and register on the opening day, to get the best price. I have always had the utmost respect for our military branches, and wanted to race Air Force and someday Marine Corps Marathon (in Washington, D.C.). It wasn't on my mind to run the full here, since I had already received entry through the Chicago Marathon lottery system.
It wasn't until mid-summer when I realized that I would have to start training again for fall races. Normally, my goal race has been in November, so having a full marathon in October threw me off a bit. I should have started training at the end of June, or at least the beginning of July. Since, I had tons of traveling, I didn't start officially training until the beginning of August, leaving a mere 8 weeks before Chicago race day. Because of the full marathon goal, Air Force became a "training run" in my mind, and the timing was not the best: 3 weeks before the full. This means, I would have to make Air Force into my LONGEST marathon training run, and add miles afterwards. (I wouldn't necessarily recommend this strategy).
So, with a few weeks under my belt, I had worked my way up to my 18-mile long run, and Air Force Half Marathon was falling on my 20-miler Saturday. I went up to Dayton (a 3-hour drive), knowing that it would be a quick trip and a way to get in those miles, get a medal, and most of all, get to hang with one of my best friends, Kara.
Kara had gotten my bib the day before, so on Friday afternoon, I drove to Dayton area and settled in for the evening. We talked about goals, and I really wanted to get another sub-2-hour half marathon again. I had hit my sub-2 half last December at Country Music Highway Half, and in the spring, I was training for my first ultra marathon (Playin' Possum), and hitting sub-2s in all of my training runs. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it again, even with some time off and less training. But, if I missed that goal, I just wanted to finish healthy and complete the rest of the 7 miles that I needed for the day.
The morning of the race was BEAUTIFUL. Kara had left her phone and Garmin, so I kept my phone for music, and she used my watch to track our mileage. She had run this race several times before, so we planned to park and run to the starting line to get a "warm-up mile" in beforehand, leaving less to do after it was over. She was right. It was exactly 1 mile from our car to the starting line! We stopped for some pictures and enjoyed the sights and sounds around the base. It is a really awesome place to take in. I kept thinking of how much my boys would love the giant airplanes and all of the things around the museum.
The starting line was crowded and it was warming up VERY quickly. I was getting super nervous because I usually do not perform well in the heat. At all. We watched the parachuters and the national anthem was sung perfectly. I quickly texted my husband to pray as the sun was already full out. I already felt dehydrated. Then, I put out a message on Facebook for prayers as it was already 70 degrees at the starting line (at 8:30am). But, no backing out, so off we went!
The first few miles were pretty good. Kara and I talked and my mind was going all over, without my Garmin to tell me all the details of where I was. The entire course was on the base and on paved roads, so there were no problems there. We were on target for pace at Mile 3, but already slipping a bit by Mile 4. We were ahead of the 2:00 pacer still, but I was doubting if I could keep up. It was hard to breathe and the hot air was thick. Several of those first miles were shaded, but it was still hot. By Mile 5, I saw the 2:00 pack and I could see that Kara was trying to drag me along and get me up to that group. I didn't keep water on me, so I stopped at every water stop, and was alternating Gatorade and water each mile.
By Mile 6, it wasn't enough. I was really thirsty, and my sub-2 was far gone. At that point, I was mad at myself for not being as trained as I had been in the spring, and I was disappointed that the heat got to me so quickly. I was double-fisting each water stop after that, grabbing a Gatorade and then a water each time. By Mile 8, Kara was dumping water on my head at each stop as well. Mile 8-9 had a decent incline and I was really struggling to breathe. It was ugly. I wanted to cry, but didn't. I was embarrassed that my run was so far from what I knew I could have done before. Kara helped me stay kind to myself and just run. We both knew we had miles ahead, even after the finish line, and all I could do was to keep going.
The course was relatively flat, but the few long ascents felt like mountains at that point. Sponges soaked with cold water were a welcome sight at Mile 10. Somewhere after that was another long hill, and Kara encouraged me to run the whole thing, and I gave up and walked half of it. By Mile 12, I decided that it was going to be what it was, and sulking about it doesn't help anything. I'm my own worst critic. The crowd picked up a bit at Mile 12.5 to the finish line. Kara took my phone to snap some pictures, and she ran ahead of me a little bit to get my finish pic. It's a very strange feeling to see the finish line and know that you STILL have 6 more miles to go... in the heat... after that.
I crossed the finish line and was SO happy to be done. I couldn't wait to down a bottle of water and just stop running for a few minutes. There were airmen at the finish with the medals, and it truly put everything in perspective for me.
No matter what I was feeling during the race, I was ABLE to run, and I completed it. There is nothing that compares to the sacrifice our military men and women make on a daily basis. It was a true HONOR to run the Air Force Half Marathon.
This is the 70th anniversary of the Air Force, so the medals were really well done. The volunteers were amazing, and just the atmosphere around the base was positive and celebratory.
I had thought about running back to the car to get another mile in, but my stomach turned on me, and we had to walk back to the museum area before we ran again. I had two full bottles of water at the finish and a cinnamon bagel from Panera, but nothing settled it. I actually felt nauseous for a while after that. Once I was able to collect myself, we tried running again to the car. It was about 0.60 miles at that point, so we clocked it and set out to a local park to run/bike the rest of my miles for the day.
Air Force Half Marathon was a well-done race. The swag included the hat I raced in, plus a long-sleeved tech shirt to match. The medal and patch were top quality, though I'm honestly not sure what I will do with the patch! The water stops were well-stocked and volunteers were great. Around Mile 5-6 there were even people cheering alongside the course with bacon!
My biggest issue with this race is the start time and potential for heat. In fact, when speaking to others who have done this course, heat has been a consistent problem for the last few years. I learned a while back not to race in the summer, but September 16th still felt like summer! The full marathoners were coming in to the finish about the same time as the half marathoners just after me (My finish time was 2:05). They had an earlier start time as well. Since I am used to starting my long runs at 6:00am, the 8:30am start threw me for a loop. If the race was at 7:00am, I would definitely do it again.
I am thankful that I got to have this experience. And more than anything, I am glad to spend some time with my dear friend, as she has been a mentor for my running since the very beginning. Kara and I ran my very first half marathon together in Columbus in 2013, and I'm so glad to have her run my 19th half with me here. God knows exactly who and what we need in our lives at the perfect times. I am thankful to have had her by my side at Air Force Half.
Wife. Mother. Runner. Coach. Adoption Advocate. I strive to share HOPE through my journey and help others reach their goals.