Happy Halloween!

A mostly wordless post for you.  Check out my chocolate cake-filled Halloween cake pops that I took to hubby’s office Halloween party.


Happy Halloween!

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My Training Plans

A lot of people have asked me what training plan I used while training for the Baltimore Marathon so I’m going to share it with you.  I’m also including my half marathon training plan that I followed for the MD Half Marathon and ZOOMA Half Marathon in the Spring.  The marathon training plan I came up with is based on the plan I used when I trained for my first marathon with Team in Training.  I made some modifications to their plan to make it work better for me.  I did not include speed work in my plan.  I’m not a speed work expert and when I tried to incorporate it into my first marathon training, I ended up injuring myself.  If you want to add speed work into the mix, you can swap out one of the weekday training runs and make it a speed work session.

I’ll also note that I only run 4 days a week (sometimes only 3 if that’s all I can make work with my schedule or if some kind of ache or pain is creeping up on me).  Running less is the only way I’ve been able to keep myself injury-free.  There is the highly successful FIRST Marathon training plan – a 3 day a week plan- from the Runner’s World Book Run Less, Run Faster.  There are studies that have shown the 3 to 4 day a week runner has less injuries.  Even though I only run 3 to 4 days a week, I’m still very active on my rest days.  We take lots of walks, plus I chase after a busy toddler all day!

“The primary reason to run only three times per week is to minimize injury risk. As we all know, running has a high injury rate, and the rate of injury increases with running volume. Many runners cannot run every day without getting injured. If you are such a runner, or if you simply fear getting injured if you run daily, then stick to a schedule of three to four purposeful runs plus a few cross-training workouts per week and feel confident that you are not sacrificing any of the performance you would get from running daily (presuming you actually could run daily without injury).” Running 101


My Marathon Training Schedule:

Mon          Tues           Wed       Thurs       Fri        Sat            Sun
Week 1     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest     8 miles      Rest
Week 2     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    8 miles       Rest
Week 3     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    10 miles     Rest
Week 4     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    10 miles     Rest
Week 5     3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    12 miles     Rest
Week 6     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    12 miles     Rest
Week 7     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    14 miles      Rest
Week 8     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    10 miles     Rest
Week 9     4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    16 miles      Rest
Week 10   5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    16 miles       Rest
Week 11    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    18 miles      Rest
Week 12    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    14 miles      Rest
Week 13    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    20 miles     Rest
Week 14    5 miles    Rest/XT     6 miles    5 miles    Rest    14 miles      Rest
Week 15    4 miles    Rest/XT     5 miles    4 miles    Rest    8 miles        Rest
Week 16    3 miles    Rest/XT     4 miles    3 miles    Rest    Marathon!  Rest


My Half Marathon Training Schedule:

Mon          Tues           Wed       Thurs       Fri        Sat              Sun
Week 1    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    4 miles        Rest
Week 2    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    4 miles        Rest
Week 3    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    6 miles        Rest
Week 4    3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    6 miles        Rest
Week 5    4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    5 miles    Rest    8 miles        Rest
Week 6    4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    4 miles    Rest    8 miles        Rest
Week 7    4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    4 miles    Rest    10 miles       Rest
Week 8    5 miles    Rest/XT    6 miles    5 miles    Rest    10 miles       Rest
Week 9    5 miles    Rest/XT    6 miles    5 miles    Rest    12 miles       Rest
Week 10  5 miles    Rest/XT    6 miles    5 miles    Rest    12 miles       Rest
Week 11   4 miles    Rest/XT    5 miles    4 miles    Rest    10 miles       Rest
Week 12   3 miles    Rest/XT    4 miles    3 miles    Rest    Half Marathon!   

[Note: I am not an expert.  These are the plans that have worked for me and gotten me to the finish line injury-free in my races this year.]

Why I love these training plans: they are incredibly flexible.  Want to do your long run on Sunday instead of Saturday? No problem.  Just swap your days around a bit – make Saturday and Monday rest days; do your weekday runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.  Can’t fit the longer weekday run on Wednesday into your schedule? Run on Tuesday instead and keep Wednesday as a rest or cross-training day.  You can move your runs around from week to week if you need to depending on your schedule.

The flexibility of this schedule was essential for me and hubby while training for the Baltimore Marathon.  I did most of my long runs on Saturdays and he did most of his on Sundays.  There would be a lot of days when just one of us needed to run.  That made it easier for us since obviously one of us needs to be home with Z (unless I took him running, of course, which was quite often).

I also changed things around when I felt I needed to.  I chose to do two 20 mile runs – one alone and one pushing Zain in the jogging stroller.  For my next marathon, I will consider adding in one more longer run – 22 miles.  I don’t feel like I needed to run 22 miles for the physical preparation as much as for my mental preparation.

I recommend trying to fit shorter races into your training schedule along the way if you can.  Races will help you prepare for the big race you’re training for and get you excited for the big day.  When I ran the Marine Corps Marathon, I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon as my long run for Week 14.  It was great practice and got me pumped up for the MCM.  Since the MCM was my first marathon, it helped me know what to expect.

I would consider the plans I follow to be beginner running plans, but they can easily be made more challenging by adding speed work, more cross-training, strength training, etc.  They are a good starting point at the very least!

Other good resources (from the experts!) for training plans are Runner’s World, Active.com, Hal Higdon, Jeff Galloway, and Cool Running.  In addition to my training plans above, I also used the Runner’s World SmartCoach app on my iPhone.  I didn’t follow their plan, but I consulted with their schedule along the way and occasionally included ideas from their plan – specifically, I generally incorporated their idea of every 4th week being a recovery week with less mileage for the long run.

Whether you’re training for your first or fiftieth marathon or half marathon, I highly recommend training with a charity team.  Not only will you get the expert advice of a coach, but you can also make a difference with every mile you run.  Some great charity teams are Team in Training, Team Fight, DetermiNation, St. Jude Heroes, and many others! You can always check your race website for charity team recommendations.

Happy running and good luck to those of you racing this weekend! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of those of you running the Marine Corps Marathon.  Even though I’m only 2 weeks out from the Baltimore Marathon, I wish I was running the MCM!

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Guest Blog: Atlantic City Half Marathon Race Recap

My cousin ran her first half marathon in Atlantic City this month.  I’m so proud of her for running this race.  I’m really excited that I think she’s hooked on racing now as she’s already looking for another race to run :) .  I helped her out by sending her my training schedule (post coming soon with that!) for her race and she had great success with it.  Hopefully, one day we’ll run a race together! Here is her race recap and what she learned from her first half marathon:


Like many of you, I am a huge fan of The Running Mom’s fun and educational blog. I visit this website regularly to read the posts as soon as they are out. Janine’s sincere and articulate way of sharing her experience, feelings, ideas and advice is always so engaging and fun to read.

Soon after I started following The-Running-Mom, I signed up for my first half marathon, which was a couple of weeks ago in Atlantic City. I thought it was a good one for beginners because half of the race (the 2nd half) was on a boardwalk, so it was rather flat. Also, it was mid-October, so the temperature was perfect, not too hot, not too cold, not too humid. The only problem was the strong winds, blowing sand around, but I guess that was bearable.
So, during my training of 2-3 months, I learned bunch of new things from Janine.  Her posts had great tips for running gear, training schedule and most important mental preparation. Here is a quick recap of some words of advice that I benefited from this blog:

  • Dehydration:  I had Gu and nuun/water mix with me during the run. I needed them the most at miles 6 and 10. I definitely would not have completed 13.1 miles so comfortably if I had not brought those with me.
  • Running gear:  socks, socks, socks. I don’t think I can stress that enough. You appreciate good socks once you experience a bad pair during a long run. It was hard for me to understand why they were so important until that 10 mile run I had been wearing my hubby’s regular socks. For the race, I tried the pair Janine recommended in one of her blog posts, and my feet were very happy!
  • New playlist: Another great advice from Janine. I added some new songs to my playlist the night before the race. I surprised myself with new tunes that I had not run with before. Those really pumped me up and kept me going (especially miles 11 and 12).
  • Flexible training schedule: I used the training schedule that Janine shared with me. It was very flexible and had room for moving runs from one day to another if needed. With my vacations & international travels last month, I could still follow the schedule and feel prepared/ready on the day of the race.
This short list surely does not cover all the important tips that I learned from this blog, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank Janine for taking the time to share her experience with us. Her advice has helped and motivated many new runners like me (and no doubt, will successfully continue to do so).  I am not a running mom yet, but once I have a baby to run with, I will be paying special attention to baby and stroller tips also!
As the-running-mom says, happy running!

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Why it took me 5 years to run another marathon

When I ran my first marathon I was 22.  I had just graduated from college, started my first real job and began my first semester of graduate school.  I was a different person than I am today.  In a lot of ways, I think I’m a not only a stronger runner today, but also a stronger person.

After the Marine Corps Marathon, I did not run again for 3 weeks.  When I look back through my training journal from then, I see that a week and half after the marathon, I wrote that I thought about going for a run but decided not to.  My first post-marathon run 3 weeks later was short – just 2.5 miles.  It ended with pain and feeling out of shape.  I was happy to run again, but the pain I experienced in my arches during my training was still there.  I went through the post-marathon blues.  After months of training, the race was over and I couldn’t keep running.  I was burnt out mentally and hurting physically.

In the Winter of 2006/2007, Team in Training asked me to be a mentor for a Spring race; I declined because I didn’t think I was ready for another marathon.  In the Spring of 2007, I made the decision to run the Marine Corps Marathon again in the Fall with TNT.

I was in a car accident in May 2007.  A car crossed the center line and came at me head on.  I swerved into the shoulder and it hit my car on the rear passenger door, totaling it.  Everyone one was fine, but I hurt my neck.  I went through 2 months of physical therapy, but I still had pain.  It turned out I had a bulging disc in my neck.  It caused pain that would radiate from my upper neck down to my shoulder and through my right arm.  Running caused me more pain so needless to say, the 2007 Marine Corps Marathon was not an option.

Hubby and I got engaged in Hawaii in the summer of 2007

In the Fall of 2007, hubby (who was my fiancé at the time) and I began to do a lot of running together while we lived in DC.  We ran the So Others May Eat Turkey Trot 5K on Thanksgiving Day together.  It’s a race for a great cause and we will be doing it again this year with Zain.  I’m really looking forward to it.  It was our first race as a couple and it will be our first family race.

In 2008, hubby and I both ran, but not consistently enough that we signed up for any races.  It was a big year for us though because it’s when this happened:


Dancing the night away

In the Fall of 2008, while trying to get pregnant, I went through my first miscarriage.  I was not running before that pregnancy, but I ran again as soon as I had doctor clearance.  Running helped ease my pain and heartache.  My running was inconsistent though and I didn’t consider any races because I knew I wanted to get pregnant again and I did not plan to run through my pregnancy – I have nothing against running in pregnancy, but I wasn’t a strong enough runner at the time to do that.

In 2009, hubby and I considered running a half marathon in March, but since we were still trying to get pregnant, I was worried about building up my mileage.  I found out I was pregnant with Zain just over a month after we had been through our second miscarriage.  Running was not even a thought in my mind at that point.  I just wanted a healthy baby.

Zain was born via emergency c-section.  The cord was wrapped around his neck twice and he was in distress while I was in labor.  It was a very scary experience.  Thankfully, they got him out and I was so happy to finally meet my little boy – who I didn’t know was a boy because we didn’t find out the gender while I was pregnant.  He made us whole.

Meeting my sweet little man for the first time

Don’t mind my puffy face and hands – 17 hours of labor + c-section + all the meds they gave me made me so swollen

The recovery from the c-section was far from pleasant and I didn’t start running again until Zain was 2.5 to 3 months old.  I didn’t even consider any races the first year of his life because a.) I was too tired, b.) I was nursing and he didn’t like bottles, and c.) I just wasn’t running nearly enough to feel ready to train for a race.

The reason hubby and I recommitted to running this year was because the MD Half Marathon came to our area.  It was so close to our house that we felt like we had to run it.  Training for that went so well that we decided to go ahead and sign up for the Baltimore Marathon.

So there you have it – a summary of the past 5 years of my running life.  I can promise you I will not wait another 5 years to run my next marathon!

Happy running!

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Marathon lessons learned

My first marathon – the Marine Corps Marathon – taught me a lot about what works for me and what doesn’t when I’m racing a long distance.  Because I learned so much from that race, I thought I knew what to do better for the Baltimore Marathon.  However, I learned quite a few more lessons from Baltimore than I had anticipated.

  • You know how you should never do anything different on race day than you do during your long training runs? Well, I did something different.  It was something I had to do – I wore a new shirt that I only received the day before the marathon.  My Team Fight shirt seemed perfect at first because it’s the exact same style Under Armour shirt that I already own in a few solid colors.  However, what I did not realize until race morning was that I got a shirt with a major flaw.  One armhole was smaller and tighter than the other.  This happened to make for a very uncomfortable feeling and I felt like I was constantly adjusting it.  I don’t think it was super noticeable to others, just a huge annoyance for me.  You can tell in this picture that it doesn’t fit properly:

My sports bra strap was basically hanging out like this the whole time…At least I’m still smiling!

  • I needed my hydration belt.  I love wearing my Nathan Speed 2 hydration belt on my long runs.  It doesn’t bounce all over; it stays put around my waist.  It holds all the water I usually need (sometimes I stop for a refill) and has a huge pocket that fits my phone and as many GUs as I can cram in it.  The water was certainly plentiful at the water stops, but something about drinking from a cup instead of a water bottle threw me off.  I don’t mean it was hard to drink it because I didn’t mind slowing down to make sure it actually made it into my mouth.  I mean that I think I drank too much from the cups and then I ended up feeling like puking.  Not a fun way to feel when you have a lot of miles ahead of you.  I prefer drinking from my water bottle because that’s what I’m used to and it’s easier for me to gauge how much I’m consuming.

Chugging along

  • I missed my Nuun.  Oh how I missed it.  I usually have one bottle of water and one bottle of lemon-line Nuun with me on my long runs.  I tried grabbing some Gatorade at the water stops.  Yuck! I’m not used to drinking it while running so it just seemed too sweet and made me feel worse.  Around mile 10, I remember telling hubby that I was seriously craving some cold lemon-lime Nuun.  That made him crave it too.  It’s an addiction I tell ya.  Quite honestly, as soon as I found my parents at the end of the race, I instructed them to find me a cold bottle of water and I grabbed my Nuun that was stashed in the stroller.  I couldn’t wait for that little tablet to dissolve.

Do you see how tightly I’m clutching my water bottle of Nuun?

  • I made another huge mistake.  I did not take inventory of my GU before the race and all I had left for me and hubby was GU with caffeine.  I love my caffeinated GUs, but I usually alternate them with non-caffeinated ones.  Having only caffeinated GUs during the race did not make me feel good!

I distinctly remember this picture being taken. I was not happy at this point, but I forced a smile.

  • I needed more tissues.  I have this incredibly annoying problem when I run when it’s remotely cold outside: my nose runs faster than I do.  It was only a little chilly on the morning of the race, but it was very windy.  That kept my faucet nose running.  I had 3 tissues in my pocket.  They were all soaked by the end.  Gross, I know.  After the race, my poor nose was so sore from that nonsense.

I know I look miserable. This was somewhere around mile 20. Dunkin’ Donuts guy doesn’t look too happy either!

  • The biggest mistake I made on race morning was not eating enough before the race.  I shared a banana with Zain in the car on the way to the race.  Half of a banana? Seriously? How did I think that was enough? I usually have a Honey Stinger Waffle before my long runs and I don’t know why I didn’t have one on race day.  My stomach was growling by mile 7.  I had brought some Clif Shot Bloks to the race, but I ended up ditching them because I couldn’t find a spot in my pockets for them.  I was starving.  I remember some of the water stops had bananas, potato chips, snickers, etc.  I was afraid to try eating anything because I thought that might make me feel sick.  I will not make the mistake of not eating before a race again!

I’m only smiling because I can finally see the finish line

  • I wore compression socks for the first time when I got home from the race.  I really think they helped in my recovery.  My legs were certainly sore, but not as terrible as they could have been.  Mostly, the soreness and stiffness came when I sat still too long – something I didn’t have a chance to do anyway with a toddler to take care of! These are the ones I have; I love the fun pink color!
  • I also found that I have recovered much more quickly by getting myself moving again.  I ran again on Monday, just 2 days after the marathon.  I went for a short 3 mile easy run with Zain in the stroller.  I felt great! My legs were a little heavy and my quads were a tiny bit sore, but overall I felt fine.  I ran 4 miles on Wednesday, 3 miles today and I will run again Sunday.  I’m taking it easy, but I’m finding that I actually want to run which I didn’t expect since I was feeling a little burnt out on my training before the race.  This is drastically different from after my first marathon when I did not run for 3 weeks because of my lingering injuries and pain.  I think part of why I want to run now is because I really couldn’t back then.  It feels good to feel so good!


  • One lesson I’m so glad I did not have to learn from the race was a new place on my body that needs Body Glide.  This was a huge feat.  Every distance race I’ve done has left me with a new spot on my body where I discovered that I needed to put Body Glide or that I did not put enough Body Glide.  It’s a painful discovery when that happens and I’m happy I came out unscathed this time.  I had a close call though when I realized at the starting line that I forgot a spot.  Good thing I had my pocket size Body Glide with me!

A lifesaver

I learned a lot from the Baltimore Marathon.  I think armed with the knowledge from it and my first marathon, I really can do better when I run my next marathon.  If you haven’t already, be sure to get out my race recap and my very special guest post – Hubby’s race recap!

What have you learned from races you’ve run?

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Hubby’s Race Recap: 2011 Baltimore Marathon

As you may already know from reading about my training and my Baltimore Marathon recap, I ran the race with my wonderful hubby.  This was his first marathon and I’m very excited to share his experience with you.  Here is his recap:


My handsome hubby – the marathoner!

The Baltimore Marathon was tough. It was without a doubt the toughest thing I have ever done physically. THE HILLS IN BALTIMORE WERE OUT OF CONTROL!?! Picture this, you’re at mile 20 your feet and thighs are protesting in pain and you’re greeted by the beautiful Lake Montebello. You see that it’s roughly a mile and a half around and that it is immediately preceded by a mile long uphill. How is that for discouraging?

Despite that, running the Baltimore Marathon was one of the most rewarding and gratifying things I have ever done in my life. All those training miles leading up to the big event, crossing that finish line, and having that medal placed around my neck, there was no better feeling of accomplishment.

Running with my wife made all the difference. Not only was she a great coach and motivator, but on race day she made it so much more fun. I think if I ran the Baltimore Marathon alone I would have been bored out of my mind and it would have been much more challenging. If you can train and run with a buddy or significant other, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.

I’ve discovered that running is addicting; I relish the days when I have a great morning run and that positive energy takes me sailing through the day. Needless to say, I am hooked on running. I do not know if another full marathon is in my future, but I look forward to many more running events.

Still feeling good!

Here are my takeaways from the Baltimore Marathon:

  • Bring a running buddy: Training with my wife and running with her during the marathon was a big part of my success.

Running buddies!

  • Pace yourself!

    • If this is your first marathon, stick with your usual training pace for the first 18-20 miles.
    • If you feel good at mile 20, increase your pace a little bit, only 6.2 miles to go ;-)
    • Slow your pace on the hills. You can burn a lot of energy on the hills if you decide to attack every one.
    • The goal of your first marathon should be to finish strong, not to break any records.
  • My wife has mentioned this before but I want to emphasize it: SHOES, SOCKS, AND CLOTHES EVERYBODY!
    • If you haven’t already done so, get fitted for running shoes at a knowledgeable running shoe store. If the shoes they recommend are not working out well, it is okay to get fitted again and let them know what is bugging you. I did this and it led me to the Mizuno Prophecy, which has the great shock absorption that I need and love.
    • Running socks are great at preventing discomfort and blisters. Not to mention they tend to be odor resistant and moisture-wicking. I’ve had good success with the Under Armour Streamline Running Sock and the socks from Road Runner Sports
    • Running shirts and shorts are important to keep you cool, dry, and light. For the men out there, I cannot stress how much I love Under Armour underwear for running. I like the Men’s O Series Boxerjock with the 6 inch inseam.

In this together!

  • Bring your music and make sure it is comfortable and accessible. It should not be moving around too much or getting in your way. It should be easy to navigate between songs without interrupting your run. I made the mistake of handing off my iPhone at mile 13 because it kept bouncing in my pocket. By mile 20, I was in desperate need of a distraction.
  • Be aware of the type of course you will be running.

    • Urban courses involve broken pavement, manhole covers, and different kinds of surfaces.
    • If you know the course involves a lot of uphill running, then adjust your training accordingly.
  • You may want to bring your own hydration gear. I was not a huge fan of the water stops, in the future I may bring my own fuel belt. Figure out what works best for you.
  • Most importantly have fun!

    • Take in the scenery, feel the vibe, stay loose, and interact with the spectators.
    • I wrote my name on the front and back of my shirt and all the support and encouragement I received (especially towards the end) was awesome.

He did it!


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Race Recap: 2011 Baltimore Marathon

On Saturday morning, Zain kindly woke me up just before 5am so I didn’t need to wait for my alarm to go off.  After getting him back to sleep so he could have another hour of rest, I excitedly woke hubby up and asked him if he was ready to go run a marathon.  He was thrilled with my good mood so early in the morning.  I had gotten everything we needed prepared the night before so the morning wasn’t too stressful.  I had a minor panic attack when I grabbed my Garmin and discovered the screen was blank.  I had fully charged it, yet it had somehow run the battery back down.  I charged it again while I got ready and thankfully, it was working again. Phew!  My parents arrived just after 6am and we all hopped in the car and headed to Baltimore.

Waiting at the starting line!

Hubby and I lined up at the starting line at 7:45am between the 4:30 and 4:45 pace groups.  The 15 minutes until the start seemed to take forever.  I had so much nervous energy and excitement in me.  I couldn’t wait to get going!  Once we were off, we ran through the confetti pouring down under the starting line arch.  We could feel the energy of the runners and the crowd around us.

Both hubby and I ran into a problem as soon as we starting running.  I insisted we both run with our iPhones.  When I ran the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2006, I did not run with my phone and I couldn’t find my family or hubby for nearly an hour after the race ended.  I didn’t want that to happen again.  I’ve run with my phone in the back pocket of my Race Ready shorts before but for some reason, all of my Gu gels and other stuff threw off my pocket weight distribution.  It made my phone bounce so badly it flew out of my pocket at one point.  I was nearly run over trying to grab it off the ground.  Hubby does not usually run with his iPhone (despite my insistence that he does in case of emergency) so he was not at all happy with how much it was moving in his pocket.  I ended up holding my phone in my hand then getting fed up and shoving it in my sports bra for a few miles.  I was eventually able to move my Gu around a bit and get my phone to stay better in my pocket.

Go Navin!

The first 3 miles were pretty much a steady incline.  Hubby and I both felt great and our pace was hovering between 10:10 and 10:30.  Once we got to the zoo, we got a break from the uphill and had some nice downhill and flat parts.  It was really fun running through the zoo after having just been there last week.  We got to see a penguin, a baby alligator and some kind of bird.  We felt so great that I started to see our pace slip down to a 9:30-9:50 range and I told hubby we better slow down so we don’t get burnt out.

We passed my parents and Zain around mile 9.  We were so excited to see them and the look on Zain’s face was too cute.  He was like, “hey, I know them!”  This part of the race was really exciting because there were tons of spectators around.

Clapping for the runners

Perhaps he was imitating the expression on my face when he saw me?

Still smiling! And hubby handing off his phone

Off we go again!

At mile 10, we both needed a pee break so we waited in line for the porta-pots.  We probably lost about 3 minutes there.  Once we got going again, we were on an out and back portion of the course.  We went through a fun area by the Under Armour headquarters and then turned around to head back to the halfway point.  We saw my parents and Z again around mile 13.  Our time at the half point was 2:18:35.  I was really happy with that and was excited we might make a 4:40ish finish.

As we continued on with the race, we went through an area with cobblestone.  Hubby pointed out it was good we got used to running on it in Rome so we were prepared for it on race day :) .

Hubby and I both started to come undone around mile 16.  The hills were getting to us.  It’s not like we didn’t train for a hilly race because we certainly run a lot of hills around here, but the hills in Baltimore were different.  They were more long steady uphills than the rolling sort of hills we run on.  We took our first walking break to give our legs a little rest.  This is when I got all mushy and walked with hubby sweaty hand in sweaty hand.  I told him I was so glad to be running this race with him.  I told him I wasn’t going to leave him no matter what and we would cross the finish line together (um, things might have changed down the road, more about that later).

We set little goals for ourselves like “let’s run to that intersection, then walk up the hill.”  My problem is that once I start walking, it’s very hard for me to start running again.  My legs think they’re done and don’t feel like starting up again.  The more we walked, the harder it was for me to get running again.  I kept reminding myself that I ran 20 miles pushing Zain in the stroller, I know I can do this! When I thought about that though, I really just kept thinking “Thank God, I don’t have to push the stroller up these hills!”

All along, I was afraid of the 20 mile mark.  It was a mental block for me and I was worried I would really fall apart when I got there.  We reached mile 20 when we arrived at Lake Montebello.  It wasn’t far around the lake – maybe a mile and a half – but for some reason, seeing how far it was to go around the lake bothered me.  Hubby and I walked a bit again as we started around the lake and he told me to go on without him.  I told him I wouldn’t leave him, but he insisted that I go so I could at least finish in under 5 hours.  I felt even more bad about leaving him because he had left his phone with my parents when we passed them at the 13 mile mark so he couldn’t listen to music to get him through.

I plugged in my headphones and set off alone.  I felt so guilty for the next 6 miles even though hubby told me to keep going without him.  Every time I took another walking break, I looked behind me for him and considered just stopping and waiting for him even though I had totally lost sight of him.  I skipped through the songs on my playlist trying to find something that would put some pep in my step, but all of my music was just getting on my nerves.

I kept checking my watch and seeing my time goal slipping farther and farther away from me.  The half and full marathoners had already merged together and I was stuck in a pack of half marathoners that were mostly walking.  This meant I had to weave around a lot of people – not something I really had the energy for at that point.  Side note – if you’re going to take a walking break in a race, it’s nice to move to the side!

When I finally got to the finish area through Camden Yards, I was counting on the excitement giving me a little dose of adrenaline so I could finish strong.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have much left in me so I just did the best I could to run to the finish line and just barely made my goal.  The clock time was 4:57 which was ironically my finish time for the Marine Corps Marathon.  My official chip time was 4:54:02.  I beat my previous time by 3 whole minutes and that is fine by me! My average pace was 11:13 which sounds about right considering how “fast” we were going in the first few miles and the amount of walking we did toward the end.

After I made it through the finisher’s area and got my medal, I went to look for my parents and Z.  My legs were angry, but I was happy that I felt sore in a normal just-ran-26.2-miles way, instead of an injured way.  Apparently, I couldn’t pick my feet too far off the ground while I walked because that’s when I stubbed my toe and twisted my ankle really bad on some uneven pavement.  Leave it to me to injure myself as soon as I finish the race.

Hubby’s official time was 5:03:35 which is fantastic! I’m so proud of him for all the effort he put into training and how well he did on race day.  When I caught up to him in the finisher’s area, I just wanted to squeeze him :) .

We did it!

Little man was asleep when we caught up at the end

He woke up for our family photo though!

The official photos up until about mile 15 will show you that hubby and I were feeling awesome and having a great time.  After that, it was all downhill – unfortunately, not literally downhill.  I could probably do a wordless post when the photos are released and you can watch our progression in the expression on our faces.

This race was tough and I had my moments of doubt, but overall it was really fun and I’m glad I had the chance to run most of it with hubby.  I loved representing Team Fight for The Ulman Cancer Fund for Young Adults and I’m so happy that both hubby and I raised money for their great cause.  A huge thanks to all of our friends, family and tweeps that donated to us!

Representing Team Fight!

In the week before the marathon, I was so excited for the race that I started to think about signing up for another marathon.  I forced myself to close the registration page and wait until I finished this 26.2 first.  While I was running somewhere around mile 23, I thought really hard about whether or not I want to run another marathon.  My legs were screaming “NO!!!” at me.  My head and my heart had a different answer.  I do want to run another marathon.  I do especially want to run another marathon for a charity team because I want to be able to make a difference with every mile I run.  I think I’ll go revisit that registration page now :) .

Happy running!

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Race day is almost here

This morning, I went for my last run before the Baltimore Marathon on Saturday.  It was a solo run because it was raining and I didn’t want to take Zain out in this weather.  I couldn’t decide between running 3 or 4 miles so I sort of split the difference and ran 3.6.

At the beginning, the rain was very light and felt great for running.  Halfway through my run, it turned into a downpour.  I was completely drenched.  There is no doubt in my mind that I looked like a crazy person to the morning rush hour traffic that passed me by.  I love running in the rain and this felt like the perfect last run to have before the marathon.

I have so many emotions right now about the marathon – I’m nervous, excited, anxious.  I don’t have a set time goal in mind, but I do want my time to be better than my first marathon which was 4:57.  I don’t really care if it’s a minute faster or 30 minutes faster, I just want to see an improvement.

I know from running the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2006 that the race draws an insane amount of spectators.  I remember people cheering us on throughout the whole 13.1 miles.  I distinctly remember one guy yelling at me while I took a walking break that “if your feet get tired, then run on your toes!” It was funny and ironic since I did have horrible pain in my feet back then.

I do feel nervous about the race and I keep reminding myself that I have been training for this for months and I know I can do it.  I ran 20 miles pushing Zain in the jogging stroller, I should be able to handle 26.2 without anything to push (except hubby, I know when he gets tired I may need to give him a little nudge).

The Baltimore Marathon is known for it’s mean hills, but apparently there are other things we runners need to be on the look out for.  The runner handbook warns to watch out for wild animals while we run through the zoo.  I was under the impression that the wild animals were kept in cages so let’s hope none of them have any escape plans in place on Saturday! It just so happens that hubby, Zain and I went to the Maryland Zoo on Monday.  I’m glad we already got a chance to see some of the animals, otherwise, I can assure you I would want to stop to take pictures of them and hubby would not be pleased with me :) .

Depending on how I’m feeling as we go through the zoo, I may need to hop on one of those guys to get me to the finish line.

What do you think? Elephant?


Leopard? No, he’s too lazy sleeping in his tree.

Or maybe a zebra!

Zain says to go for the giraffe.

The next post you see from me will be after the marathon.  Happy running and good luck to those racing this weekend!

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My First Marathon(s)

My first exposure to a marathon was years before I ran my first.  My high school field hockey team volunteered to work the water stop at the Baltimore Marathon.  I don’t remember exactly what mile marker it was, but I do remember it was mile 20-something.  One of our teachers was running the marathon and we were excited to see him pass us by.

This experience left me feeling 2 things – soaking wet and terrified.  The thing I remember most clearly from watching the runners go by was all the blood.  By that I mean, men with blood running down their shirts from their nipples bleeding.  I had no idea that this was a common occurrence since I knew nothing about distance running at the time, but I remember I thought it was pretty scary. I hope those guys have found themselves some Body Glide by now.

I also remember how run down all those runners looked.  Once again, knowing nothing about running a marathon at the time, I couldn’t quite grasp what kind of shape they were in at that point in the race.  I had a lot of fun cheering on the runners and passing out water with my friends from my team, but I can say with confidence that I definitely did not feel even the tiniest urge to run a marathon myself someday.  It took me a long time to find that I enjoyed running enough to want to run a marathon (more about that in my Why I Run post).

The first, and so far only, marathon I ran was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2006.  I trained with and raised money for Team in Training for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  Training with TNT was an incredible experience.  Not only did I meet wonderful people in my training group, I was stoked to be able to train for the event while raising money for a great cause.

My training did not go nearly as smoothly as my training is going for the Baltimore Marathon.  A huge reason for that was that I was wearing the wrong shoes (something you may have read about already in my Picky Feet post).  I had a slew of little injuries and issues that nearly kept me from even getting to the starting line.  My biggest issue was pain in the arches of my feet when I ran.  Now that I have shoes with better arch support, I never have that pain anymore (hallelujah!).

I went to an orthopedic doctor to rule out any major injuries and she suggested that the morning of the MCM, I could take some Advil so that the pain wouldn’t keep me from getting through the race.  What’s the number 1 rule on race day? Never do anything you have not done before on a training run.  The appointment when she told me that was close to the race date so I did not have a chance to give the Advil a test drive on a long training run.

Taking Advil normally would not have any kind of negative impact on the way I feel, but during the marathon, I felt off the entire race.  I felt dehydrated and no amount of water or Gatorade I drank at the water stations made me feel better.

I also made some other mistakes.  I got caught up in the excitement at the starting line and went out way too fast.  And by too fast, I mean I was running about a 9 minute mile, which was too fast for me back then and it would be too fast for this slow poke right now! I hit the wall early.  I was only at mile 10 and I did not think I could keep going.  I remember making it to mile 13 and feeling like I was ready to walk off the course.  My eyes searched every group of spectators for my family so I could tell them to get me out of there.  I  remember actually being mad at them because I couldn’t find them.  Of course, they were waiting for me at other points in the race and by the time I saw them, I had gathered myself and was ready to keep running.

At mile 20, I was once again ready to be done.  I felt like I had nothing left in me.  That’s when I met my running angel.  A TNT coach from another chapter saw me struggling and in tears at that point and started running with me.  Here come the tears as I type this…he told me about his girlfriend and showed me her picture that was pinned to his shirt.  He told me about how she was diagnosed with leukemia and how she only lived for 6 short months after her diagnosis.  He reminded me why I was running and his encouragement stayed with me even after he was gone and I was on my own again.  I’ll never forget how much he helped me through physically and mentally at that point in the race.

I remember hitting the 26 mile mark.  Finally! I was almost to the finish line.  I swear those last two-tenths of a mile where longer than the last 6 miles.  Of course, it was practically all uphill to the finish line; why can’t it ever be flat on the way to the finish?! I remember the Marines lined up along the way to the finish.  I wanted to ask if one of them could just carry me over the finish line.

Crossing that finish line was a moment I’ll never forget.  My time was nothing stellar – 4:57 – but that didn’t matter.  I made it through those excruciating 26.2 miles and I made a difference with every step I took for TNT.

I loved training and running with TNT.  The support along the course was phenomenal.  The most amazing part was the people people along the way who thanked me for running with TNT.  I distinctly remember the first thanks I got very early in the race, maybe around mile 2.  A man ran up next to me and said “thank you, Janine” (my name was on my shirt).  He had been a leukemia survivor.  That started the waterworks early in the race!

I really hope to run a race again in the future with TNT or be involved with their organization in some capacity because they seriously rock.  One of my biggest regrets from my race is that I did not run with the team members I did my training runs with.  We were set to start in different waves.  I wish I had been able to run with them so that I wasn’t on my own for the majority of the race.  That’s one of the many reasons I’m excited to run the Baltimore Marathon with my hubby.  I know he’ll be great company :) .

Happy running!

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