Houston Half Marathon 2017 & WHAT Sandwiches?!

I admit, I was really not looking forward to the 2017 Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Though I had signed up enthusiastically the same day that I ran the year prior and Mark was pumped up and excited for the Chevron Houston Marathon, I was  dreading it.

Year after year, I’ve been undertrained for this race. Now that I’m on the edge of thirty, I know that its getting more and more dangerous for my long term health. I sign up with the best of intentions,  but I always seem to find an excuse. This year, it was 20 degrees and windy on training days. Last year, it was that I was busy with the move. It’s always something, and it doesn’t help that the most important runs for the timing of this race are during the holidays.

It wasn’t just that. I was feeling really overwhelmed with the fact that I was heading to Houston and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see everyone who I wanted to see. I get lonely up here, so I was pretty bogged down about it. I kept reminding friends and family, “remind me I’m NOT doing this race again.” “The weather is too cold up here, I’m NOT doing this next year.” “Don’t let me sign up again.”

Spoiler alert: I signed up again for next year.

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What Sandwich?

One of my favorite authors and by far my favorite public speaker on the subject of creativity, Elizabeth Gilbert, says “The question is not, ‘What do I love?’ The question is ‘What do I love so much that I don’t mind eating the shit sandwich that comes along with that thing?”.

In her book, Big Magic,  the above video, and podcast, Magic Lessons, she argues that it’s not just about finding what you love, but it’s also about acknowledging that whatever it is you love comes with a truckload of things that are distressingly bad and accepting those things as well. Love something so much that it’s all worth it.

My Shit Sandwich

As I mentioned, weather here in Connecticut during training isn’t so great. The timing of the race isn’t ideal. Years prior, I saw far more people I knew from Houston–on the course cheering, volunteers, runners. That part was a little disappointing. The heat and humidity expected on the day of the race called for a yellow flag. And yeah, I was sore.

Then there was the waiting. Mark runs the full marathon, and though I thought I had made plans for someone to pick me up, there was a misunderstanding and I found myself sitting in my salty, sweaty, rained-on, yuck for a few hours alone getting more sore and exhausted by the second.

Why I’m Eating it Anyway

I saw my dear friend Kellie of Yoga-Run-Repeat before the race & we caught up. I joke about being raised by the streets of Houston, but it’s true: all of the stories of mayhem, madness, and juvenile delinquency unfold as I run this course. There was hardly a single spot unoccupied by people cheering for their loved ones, funny signs, helpful people who brought along donut holes and treats for complete strangers. The encouragement felt by the surrounding community is unparalleled.

Marathon spectators are what it’s all about. I know it can get boring on the sidelines, so I act really ridiculous whenever I catch someone’s eye, I cheer for them A LOT, say silly things, just act crazy and make people laugh. Though I was embarrassed that Mark put ‘Tiny Kelsie’ on my bib again this year, a volunteer saw it and said “You ran last year!” Then got embarrassed that she knew. I can’t blame her for noticing, I spend more energy encouraging people to cheer than I do running the race! The last mile I was raising the roof to the bigger crowds and it was like making a wave happen.

People were telling me that they were proud of me. Who I don’t even know. I’ve done so many bigger things in my life with little to no recognition, and all I have to do is run around for a couple of hours and that random stranger was proud. That’s spectacular.

I can’t not do this race. Remind me next year when I’m forcing myself onto a treadmill for a few hours while it’s snowing outside.

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Race Report: Katy Triathlon at Firethorne 2015

This past Sunday, Mark and I did our first triathlon as a couple, Katy Triathlon at Firethorne. This race only had a sprint distance course, and it seemed a lot smaller than the race I did two weeks ago, Towne Lake Tri.

This was the first race I’ve done where the start line was in the water, instead of running into the water to begin. Continue reading

His and Hers Printable Triathlon Checklists

A couple of weekends ago, when I completed the Towne Lake Triathlon in Cypress, Texas, Mark came along to cheer me on. He’s done ten marathons since we first began dating, and as long as I wasn’t participating in another way, I cheered him on during his race. I’ve signed up for less races, but he’s always my number one fan, too.

After Towne Lake Tri, Mark seemed a little off. I was so excited to be getting over my open water fears, and had already planned on getting in two more races before the season was over in a few short weeks. When I told him my plans, he was frank: Continue reading

Back at it! Towne Lake Triathlon 2015

I’ve spoken before about what led me to triathlon, and the mistakes I made in training for my first half-iron distance race. If you read the post, you might understand why I had some reluctance to start up again.

The goal has always been the same, though: complete an Ironman before I turn 30. It seemed a lot further away when I was 22 and in the best shape of my life, but, hey. Whatever, right?

When I wrote that post, I didn’t realize that I’d be on the other side of the planet for my honeymoon to Japan and The Philippines, then recovering from it, for the entire month of April. I didn’t realize that my husband’s job would be transferring to New York City, or that I’d go through depression over the continuous life-change limbo that it created and an obsession with searching for real estate in the entire Tri-State Area before finding home in Connecticut.

I digress.

What I’m saying is, I thought I wouldn’t already done my second 70.3 by now. I haven’t. In fact, I’m still getting over my fear of open water. I had only gone one time to the lake before deciding to bite the bullet and try another tri. Enter Towne Lake Tri.

Mark heard about the race through his running coach’s client. It took place on Labor Day, and there was an Olympic distance course and a sprint. Knowing full well my open water handicap, I went for the sprint. The setting was a small man-made lake in the subdivision of Cypress (a suburb of Houston) called Towne Lake. Continue reading

Can I run a half marathon with a fever? With the flu?

These are the questions that I found myself facing Saturday and Sunday. After two days of having a sore throat I attributed to my overzealous use of a space heater, I found myself, on Saturday, a tad hung over and all the way miserable. I could barely keep my eyes open, my throat was in tremendous pain, and after weeks of wearing three pairs of socks and multiple pairs of pants just to sit around the house, I dusted off my summertime pajama shorts and was rockin’ those.

The day progressed and I just got worse. Noises seemed louder, my head hurt. How was I going to do the race the following morning?

After getting a few things ready for Mark, I, still without a firm decision as to what I was going to do the following day, was in bed before 7:30 p.m.. I slept like a rock, lemme tell ya. I had dreams of sleep, for crying out loud, but by 4 a.m., Mark was up and raring to go. I thought about the new race medal rack I just bought and little else, drank a few sips of the coffee my husband had prepared for me and found the clothes that I hadn’t set out the night before.

I warned everyone I came in contact with about my ailment, gave air hugs, and then started the race with only my nap afterward in mind. During the first mile I could feel sweat all over my face, whereas usually I sweat first elsewhere, and definitely not until after the first mile. It was fever sweats, and it was at that time I knew that I definitely wouldn’t achieve a PR that day. Despite this, I had plans to meet friends at the finish line, so I ran the entire time outside of a bathroom break (which I would usually take reluctantly) and for all the water stops.

At 2:24:49, it was undoubtedly my worst half marathon time by a lot. But, boy did I give it hell.

So, can you run  a half marathon with flu-like symptoms? Apparently, yes. SHOULD you run a marathon with flu-like symptoms? Emphatically NO.

After running half marathon sick: 2015 Aramco Houston Half medal

But I sure liked the 2015 Aramco Houston Half bling!

 Featured image by Ryan Hyde on Flickr.

So, Your Friend is Running a Marathon: 11 Tips for Marathon Spectating

A friend of mine is running her first marathon this weekend at the Chevron Houston Marathon. I’m SO excited for her, and she sent me a text the other day asking if I had any suggestions for her boyfriend, who will be spectating.
Well, YES. Mark and I have been marathoners our entire relationship (though I’m mostly cheerleader, only two 26.2 races for me so far!) I’ve cheered him on in Detroit, San Diego, Minneapolis, Provo (UT), Chicago, Houston, and most recently, the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington D.C.. I’m almost a pro!
Tips for marathon spectating

Mark and I after the Detroit Free Press Marathon; it was the first I spectated at. We had only been dating about three months. Go dirty Nerdy!

If you’re looking to cheer on your lobster at an upcoming endurance event, here are some tips:
Where to be
  1. Check the course map to see how many places you can cheer on your friend. Some Marathons are one huge loop and few are one long line, but most are obscure shapes. Many times there will be spots a block away that are miles away on the course. Each map is different, be strategic & let your loved one know where to look for you.
  2. When you’re planning your map, plan to go nowhere that’ll have you cross the race. If you’re on foot, it’s not a big deal, you can run in the same direction as the racers and keep making your way to the other side. If you’re on a bike, you’ll be the biggest jerk for miles, and if you’re trying to spectate with a car (not recommended)-then, well, you just can’t.
  3. Don’t expect to see your runner during the first mile or two. The crowd of runners is just too dense. You can try to see them off, but its unlikely and you could spend that time getting to a further destination where he’ll appreciate seeing you more.
  4. If you’re meeting your runner at the finish line, make sure your last cheer spot allows for a lot of time for you to get there. With crowds, road closures, and, because of the Boston Marathon Bombing, bag checks near the area, you will likely run into more than one obstacle
  5. If you’re not meeting your runner at the finish line, please cheer at a spot before the last mile or two! That’s where runners need your support the most, and unfortunately it’s the most sparse.

What to wear

  1. A runner needs to wear what’s most comfortable for them, but if your runner wears a white shirt or white cap, you’ll have a hard time finding them! There’s a lot of colors out there but white is the hardest to spot. Red might be easier to spot, but no amount of neon will help you see your runner.
  2. For you, wear something silly if you want! It’ll make people laugh and make that long distance a little more interesting. If not, dress like a runner. During the Marine Corps marathon, I was running late to the finish line and came to a bridge that only people in the race were allowed to cross. I couldn’t take a chance on the next bridge that’d cross that body of water, so I just acted like I was a part of the race. (Naughty, I know. Desperate times!)
  3. Only bring the essentials. Back when Mark did Rock n’ Roll San Diego, I had a whole backpack full of water, snacks, fuel for him, loud bang sticks, my wallet, his wallet, my phone, the course map–everything I could have possibly needed. That was fine for then, but, since the bombing, there are officers who search bags at the finish. If you don’t have a bag, you don’t have to wait in that line.
MORE COWBELL! (What to do)
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  1. It seems silly, and I can’t explain it, but endurance athletes love a good cowbell! Nothing picks up my pace when I’m starting to drag like hearing a cowbell. If you’re out there clapping for a long time at a lot of strangers, your hands can get red and tired. Cowbell all the way!
  2. If you read that last suggestion and thought, “Strangers?! I’m only cheering for my man/friendf/girlfriend/mama/sister-in-law’s baby cousin Tracy!” PLEASE don’t have that attitude! Don’t just stand there on the sidelines while everyone runs past. Your energy and support helps these people achieve their goals, and they worked just as hard as someone you know to achieve it.
  3. Most names are written above the numbers on their chests, also known as bibs. Call out their names and make them feel awesome!

Oh yeah, about those 2015 resolutions.

No matter how soon before Christmas I begin to consider it, I never seem to hammer out my resolutions until at least the end of the first week of January. With Christmas decorations on top of the usual mess to clean up and New Year’s Eve and Day plans with travel, I don’t quite have the sanity to envision the next 365 358 351 days. I’m okay with being a few days late, with the right intentions, rather than not following through consistently with my goals.

This year, though, it was even harder. Continue reading