Last year in 2016 I decided that I wanted to run a 5K every month for a year, and run a Half Marathon before I turned 30. And so I did.
Before the Half, I had decided I wanted to take on a marathon, so I entered the Marine Corps Marathon lottery, thinking it would take a miracle for me to get picked… but I did.
So far it has been a huge challenge. I started running in August 2016, and competed in my first 5K, ever, the DIVA 5K, which took me almost 45 minutes to complete. It was tough; I could barely run for more then two minutes at a time, let alone a mile, and boy was I sucking wind. It took me a few months before I started taking it more seriously. I didn’t have that much faith in myself, and neither did my boyfriend. He even told me there was no way I was going to be able to run a half marathon (although I think he just said that to give me some motivation).
In December 2016, I started running more regularly and following more of a training program for a 5K and 10K race. In January, I ran a 5K without stopping for the first time at about 33 minutes, my time had improved drastically. I may have been slow, but I did it, I ran the entire thing. Then on April 1, 2017, I ran the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K in Richmond, Virginia, and also ran the entire thing; I was slow running here too, but it didn’t matter how fast I was, it matters than I ran the entire race and finished. I got to run it with my big from sorority too, so that made the experience so much more exciting! My time was 69 minutes!!! I was ecstatic!!!
On May 21, 2017, I ran a very difficult 13.1 miles. I had been sick for almost two months, in and out of doctor’s offices, and was on several medications. I was very close to not participating and just doing it next year, but I didn’t want to give up. So I went, and I ran about half, but I finished. I wasn’t all that proud of myself, as being sick meant I wasn’t able to train for the last two months, but I ran it with a sorority sister I hadn’t seen in a few years, so it was worth it!
And then it began. Although I was still sick, I needed to start training again so I would have a chance to get through the entire marathon. I basically started my training over, only running one to two miles at a time four days a week.
22 Weeks until MCM: The first week of June I put my sneakers to the pavement, and basically started over from scratch with a light two mile jog. I logged only eight miles this week. I could tell my allergies were acting up because I was having a hard time breathing, so I ran on the treadmill for three of the four days. I was really hoping to get back outside for these runs.
21 Weeks until MCM: This week didn’t start out too badly, although I ended up running five days in a row due to some unforeseen work and training at my company. I was able to log 12.5 miles that week and upped my ante from two mile runs to two three mile runs, one two and half mile run, and two two mile runs. I was able to start lifting again this week, and boy was a sore for a few days afterward.
20 Weeks until MCM: This week started out pretty well, I got in a three mile run after a weekend off from running. I also started a strength/workout program to start building the muscle in my legs to get me through those 26.2 miles.
19 Weeks until MCM: This week started off a little rough. I ran 4.5 miles on Monday with shin splints pain the entire time, so I ended up having to walk about a half mile total hoping the pain would subside. It seems the faster I ran, however, the pain would be less. But I didn’t want to push it too much. Basically lots of icing and rolling this week for sure.
18 Weeks until MCM: I got a late start this week, I didn’t run until Wednesday. After my run on Saturday, I took a three day break as my shin splints were torturing me. On Wednesday I hit the pavement again; this run was very difficult. I had to stop almost a mile in, and ended up walking for a majority of the run. The shin splints were debilitating, so I only ran about a mile and a half total. I didn’t run the rest of the week mainly because I did not want to make it worse.
17 Weeks until MCM: Started on Tuesday this week and ran a very productive three miles, I even PRed at 32 minutes and 47 seconds. Hopefully I am able to get back on this train because at the rate I am going right now, I may have to defer until next year. So hopefully this is the last I have seen of these shin splints. Overall, this has been a very productive week with working out and watching what I eat. I need to “really” start lifting again though, especially with my legs to gain the muscle to get me through the miles. Overall this week has been very successful. I was able to run all four of my runs, and even did 6.5 without walking with a pace of 12:17.
16 Weeks until MCM: I am looking forward to this week, as on Sunday I will be attempting to run 8.5 miles. I think I can do it because when I did my 6.5 I felt like I could totally keep going. My run on Tuesday went well, but I was feeling the shin splints on Wednesday, so I figured I may need another rest day. Sunday was my long run, and it went really well!!! 8.5 miles. I have also figured out that I need to focus on eating more carbs to get me through these runs, not on protein; that was a mistake I made as I was thinking more in terms of lifting weights. So lesson learned. (picture is of my 8.5 run on the treadmill, it was too humid outside. And yes I know it is blurry, but you try running and taking a perfectly focused picture.
15 Weeks until MCM: I am excited for this week’s runs, they are short but I am focusing on speed a little bit. Since I have also been including some body weight exercises before my runs, I think they have been helping. The only thing I need to incorporate is some lifting once or twice a week, especially in my legs. I don’t know what it is about short distances either, but I always have a harder time with shin splints (must be my stride). They hurt more after short runs than they do long runs. I missed one run this week due to the worst migraine I have ever had, but I was able to get in a few good runs. Next week I start doing longer runs every week. So fingers crossed that my training continues to go well.
14 Weeks until MCM: So I have been able to plan out my runs a few months in advance since I have so much going on this fall. I’m having to plan my runs around six weddings, my birthday, Jake’s birthday, bridal showers, a trip to Baton Rouge, and life in general. This week it is important that I stay on task and complete my runs, as well as trying to lift a little bit and do a complete workout to make sure I’m gaining muscle and losing weight. I have four runs this week: 3 miles, two 4.5 miles, and an 8.5 miles to end the week. I was not able to run 8.5 miles on Sunday, I could barely make it to 6. I need to refocus and try again next Sunday while focusing on my water intake and meals.
13 Weeks until MCM: I started a strength training program this week to start gaining some muscle to help me through these miles. I am by no means lifting heavy, but just enough to help me gain some muscle to increase my endurance. With this program, I will be working out six days a week, four of those will be running, two will be cross training on the bike, and five days will consist of strength training (leg days are on cross training days so not to wear my legs out before my runs).
12 Weeks until MCM: Had to push my long run until Monday from last week since I was attending a wedding this past weekend. I’m worried about being able to keep up with the training with all the weddings I am attending this fall. But, I was able to run 8.5 miles without walking! I have 11 miles on the calendar for this coming Sunday, so fingers crossed. The cross training is also going well, although I think I could pick up the intensity a bit as long as it doesn’t affect my runs. Also, I turn 30 this week!
11 Weeks until MCM: Had to push my 11 miles run to Monday since I had people in town for my birthday and needed Sunday to rest. I ended up just switching my Sunday and Monday workouts, so I did my 11 mile long run after work on Monday, which I completed!!! I was absolutely exhausted after, so I am going to have to work out my meals a bit better and concentrate on having gels for the runs so I don’t completely crash into a vegetative state after running. Aside from my 11 mile run, and three on Sunday (which was supposed to be Monday’s), I have three more runs this week: 6.5 miles on Wednesday, three miles on Friday, and an attempt at 13 miles on Sunday to end the week. My shin splints have been getting better and my recovery has been a millions times better. Since this is my third week on the new strength training plan, I can definitely feel it helping me get through my runs. I know I have said it before, but I think it is time to up the weight on these workouts so I can really start to feel change happening. I have been really bad with eating too, and I know I have said this before as well, but I really need to focus and concentrate on my eating. Not eating too much sugar and fats (which is my weakness).
10 Weeks until MCM: I attempted 13 miles on Sunday but for some reason by body was not cooperating, so I am going to attempt it again on Wednesday. I will get it, I just need to figure out exactly what I need to get to keep my energy up without getting nauseous, or needing to use the bathroom. So far, however, I have done a pretty good job staying on schedule with working out. I have only missed one workout and it was on my birthday, and it was a leg workout, so I’m not too torn up about it. These next few weeks are where I might struggle a little bit, schedule wise, but I am going to do my hardest to stay on track. Oh! I also starting using my Fitbit again for steps and food. I am able to track my macros which is very nice, and hopefully it will help me learn to control my eating habits.
9 Weeks until MCM: Well my 13 mile run did not go as planned on Sunday. I only ended up doing 6.5 miles, so I am going to attempt again on Wednesday. And I did it! The 13.1 mile run was successful!!! Although I did have a small bathroom mishap, but that didn’t stop me from finishing. Two more runs this week, with a backpacking trip between them. We are backpacking 18 miles so that should definitely help with building more leg muscle.
8 Weeks until MCM: Had a great backpacking trip with Jake over the weekend for his birthday, and it really helped build some more leg muscle. So this week, I am running five times, as I didn’t get to run on Sunday, and my long run will be next week. We have a wedding to attend down in North Carolina, so I am planning to run twice down there.
7 Weeks until MCM: I was able to run both of my runs down in NC and the weather was perfect for them. However this week I am officially exhausted, so I only ran three days instead of four. I’m going to run my fourth day on Monday and run five days next week.
6 Weeks until MCM: We are getting so close to the day! This week I am running five days, which includes a 5K on Friday and a Half Marathon on Saturday. My goal is to run 13.1 miles in about two hours and 45 minutes. When I ran my first half in May, I had been sick for about five weeks, and finished with a time of 3:33:00 which was super embarrassing, but I finished. If I could finish under 2:30:00 I would be really happy, but that probably won’t happen. Guess we will see. So far training this week has been good though. I am on track and it feels good to be accomplishing something. I also PR’d twice this week on my three mile runs on Monday and Tuesday. On Monday I finished in 32:10 and Tuesday I pushed myself at a faster pace and finished at 30:32; almost 40 seconds faster!!! My goal for Wednesday is to reach a new PR for 6.5 miles. Right now my fastest is 1:07:32 at a 10:23 pace (proud picture left after run).
5 Weeks until MCM: This week so far has been very productive! On Saturday I beat my half marathon time by over 40 minutes, at 2:41:47! Yay! I also got a new PR on Tuesday, which is the biggest accomplishment so far, running three miles in 29:45!!! I’ve been trying to get under 30 minutes for over a year, so a huge huge PR for me! I have about a month left before MCM so I’m really hoping I can do it. I am on call for when my sister-in-law goes into labor, so I have packed a few outfits so I can run while I’m down in Louisiana and stay on track. (Picture is after the DIVAS 5K with my mom)
4 Weeks until MCM: Last week, on September 21, 2017, I flew down to Baton Rouge to meet my little niece, Harper. I flew back on the 26th. I was able to go on four runs while there, but they were shorter than I would have liked. It is sooooo freaking humid down there, holy cow. I decided to take a little bit of a break this week as well, my shins have been killing me, but not when I run, only when I touch the right one. Thinking about going to the doctor after MCM.
3 Weeks until MCM: After taking six days off, I feel a little better. I attempted 15.5 miles on Monday, but that didn’t work, I made it all of eight miles. I think part of it was running at night on a full stomach, and I didn’t eat or hydrate properly. So I am going to attempt it again this Saturday, and if I can I’ll push to see if I can do 18. I think I will be alright on race day, I am told with all the people encouraging the run will be a bit easier. I just want to finish the entire race.
2 Weeks until MCM: So I only ran once this week. And didn’t get anywhere near 18 miles last weekend, so that’s frustrating. I’ve really been losing my motivation lately, and I am worried that I won’t be able to finish the race. At this point all I can really do is hydrate and carb load so I can make it through the entire race.
1 Week until MCM: I am hoping to get in three runs before race day this week. I have lost a lot of my motivation and I am having trouble staying focused. I still worry about being able to finish, but I am going to push as hard as possible to go as far as I can. I know I can run about 13 before I really start feeling it, so I’m hoping I can just push through and ignore the pain to finish the entire course.
Day Before MCM: Tomorrow is the day, and I am trying to stay positive. I am also trying not to think about it too much so I don’t make myself nervous. We did go to the Expo though which was excellent and very crowded.
Pre-Race Morning Jitters
October 22, 2017 – Post MCM: Well I’m done. Not the time I had planned for or wanted, but I finished all 26.2 miles. I made it to all of the time cutoffs with time to spare!!! I did pretty well until mile 20 when I could not run any further because of the pain in my foot. Seems I may have a stress or hairline fracture, so back to the doctor. But now I know how to plan for next year. I have an entire year to plan, train, and improve what I lacked this year. I have already started planning for next year (fingers crossed I get in again), and I know it’s a little early to be setting a goal for myself, but it would be awesome if I could finish in five and a half hours, doing about a 12 minute pace. If I could improve to an 11 minute pace, then I could see myself finishing in under five hours. But baby steps.