Tag Archives: half marathon

D.N.S.

This weekend I D.N.S.ed (Did Not Start) my first race ever. There… now it’s out there. It’s Tuesday and I’m still not 100% “over it”. You guys know that my knee injury has had a flare up this winter and I made the decision back in January to defer down to the half marathon from the full for the Rock’n’Roll USA race. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t be able to do the half. But that’s exactly what happened.

Friday, I was certain I was running this race. I picked up my packet, chatted about running with other coworkers who were racing, and even enjoyed some pasta for dinner in preparation. But slowly over the course of the evening the doubt started creeping in. My knees were hurting. Now, for some unknown reason, my right ankle has also started hurting. Was I really ready to run 13.1 miles? As much as, in my mind, the half marathon isn’t an intimidating distance for me (I’ve run like 10 before… not exactly new), it’s still a lot of miles for your body.

A year and a half ago, I pushed myself to run the Rock’n’Roll Savannah half marathon injured and it was freakin’ miserable (not to mention it took me like 2.5 hrs to finish, felt like a very painful eternity). Did I want to do that again? Cue… the… FREAKOUT.

Thankfully my bff Sarah was there with me (she is my lady life-partner) to talk me down off. I set my alarm, laid out some clothes, and got into bed still thinking I was going to run. But I laid there… and laid there… and laid there. I couldn’t sleep. My mind my racing, my joints were throbbing, and suddenly my stomach was hurting (just nerves I think). At 5:30 am my eyes were wide open again (even before my alarm, which NEVER happens) and I knew I shouldn’t run this race. I crawled back into bed in miserable defeat and lay there in a pathetic pile of self pity.

Intellectually, I know I did the right thing. Could I have finished? Definitely. Would it have been fun? Probably not. Would it have been the kindest thing I could do to my body? Definitely not. Could I have potentially injured myself? Extremely likely. I run a bajillion races … what is one race in the grand scheme of things? Even though I intellectually knew all of this… emotionally, I was still super bummed. I was SO embarrassed at the thought of telling people I hadn’t raced (which let’s be honest… no one actually cares except me). I was disappointed in myself because I felt like I had “given up”.

But I remind myself that holding back is a sign of running maturity. I remind myself that running for many years to come is more important than running one race. I remind myself that I am human, I am imperfect, and that is absolutely fine.

So that is my sad, melancholy eulogy for  the race that just wasn’t meant to be. I am shifting my focus to healing my knees and getting back in the game. Everyone loves a good comeback story right?

Questions for you guys:

– Have you ever D.N.S.ed a race before? Tell me about it!

– How do you show kindness to your body?

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How do you write a running blog… when you’re not running?

I suppose I should rephrase that title. I’ve been running… some. But I haven’t been training… at all. The last couple weeks I’ve been feeling so great about my workouts. I’ve been enjoying them and pushing myself in new ways… making some really fun gains in the area of strength. But I haven’t been training. And I’m running a half marathon in two weeks!

You may recall that I was supposed to run the marathon but elected to drop down to the half when my knee injury started acting up halfway through training. I decided, at the time, it was best for my body to back off training. Apparently, I took that to mean I should stop training all together! I also didn’t have much to write about besides some fun treadmill speed sessions. There’s nothing particularly interesting about my 3 mile warm up to a strength training session or an easy 5 miler while watching the news. Hence… we haven’t been talking a lot of of running on Pennies ON THE RUN.

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I’m really glad I’ve given myself this break from training, because I have honestly enjoyed it. And my knee really wasn’t feeling great (I wouldn’t say its 100% now, but it’s MUCH better). AND honestly, I’m so over the cold right now. I’ve reached that point in the winter where I am like EFF THIS. My body doesn’t react well in extreme cold. I did a 10 miler on Saturday when it was 27 degrees out and my paced dropped steadily about 10 seconds every mile as I felt my body just tighten and tighten up under me. GIVE ME WARM WEATHER OR GIVE ME DEATH! (I’m completely aware that once DC’s swamp-like summer sets in I will be whining about that too)

But it’s MARCH now. Which means it’s almost Spring and its RACING SEASON. Nothing makes me want to run more than racing… I just love it. I’m opening my spring season this Sunday at the St. Patrick’s Day 8K and I’m really excited! Since I’m not really trained for the half, I’m definitely going to just take it easy and enjoy it. I put together this workout plan just to get me through the next two weeks / let me finish the half without hurting myself:

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
5M Steady State Spinning + Strength w/ Trainer Boot Camp + 30 minutes Speed Work 3M Steady + Strength Yoga + 3M easy 10 M St. Patrick’s Day 8K
Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
5M Steady State Spinning + Strength w/ Trainer Boot Camp + 30 minutes Speed Work 3M Steady + Strength Yoga + 2M easy Rock’n’Roll USA Half Marathon Rest

Fund Racing 101 and a Giveaway!

If you’ve never had the pleasure of Fund Racing… I can’t recommend it enough. If you’re already a runner, why not put all your hard work and effort towards something good? If you’re not a runner, maybe this is the motivation you need to get started? I wrote this post back in November for my friend David who was fund racing for Covenant House in the Philadelphia Marathon. Today, I thought I’d share just a couple tips and tricks for getting started with Fund Racing and then share a little incentive at the end!

1. Pick a cause you care about. Nothing is more transparent than asking someone to donate to a cause you A. know nothing about or B. don’t actually care about. There’s something that ALL of us can get behind out there and nothing comes through better than genuine interest.

2. Work with staff at the organization. Get materials, attend an orientation, or just ask a bunch of questions. People may have questions and, again, if you’re asking them to donate money to your cause you should be informed about it.

3. Start with a simple ask email. Craft an email to friends and family who you feel comfortable asking for a donation and make it really personal. Explain what the organization is and how their money will be used. Then make it clear why YOU are running for this cause. Include relevant links to the organization and a clear link to your fundraising page.

4. Talk to your employer. Many organizations match charitable donations. This is a SUPER easy way to up your fundraising numbers.

5. Get creative. If your company doesn’t match funds, would they let you sell baked goods or little trinkets? Do you have a community service club at your job or school? Get them involved! It never hurts to ask and explore every avenue. Talk to your running club too, maybe you can do a team effort!

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Now for a little incentive! I am fund racing for Back On My Feet (The DC / Baltimore Chapter) in the Rock’n’Roll USA Half Marathon. I would like to sponsor one person completely, which means I need to raise $1,800. I am committed to making that happen! SO… in the interest of shameless self-promotion please consider making a donation on my behalf:

http://www.active.com/donate/BOMFDCUSA2013/christinazimmerman

And to sweeten the deal… I am going to host my VERY FIRST giveaway on Pennies on the Run!!

If you make a donation (regardless of size) to my cause by March 1st, PLEASE leave a comment below.

I will randomly select one reader (from the comments on this post) on March 2nd, and you will receive a special gift of gratitude from me!!

I believe in this organization and this cause. Together you and I could change the life of one homeless man or woman in the DC / Baltimore area. Let’s give them this chance!

Baltimore Half Marathon – Race Review

If you haven’t guessed already… I like saving money. I also like spending money on fun things like shoes and clothes, but I will go out of my way to spend as little as possible on everything (I sincerely hope that no one in my life would think of me as “cheap”, I just believe in getting the best deal possible and being responsible about money). This was kind of hard for me when I started racing because racing is EXPENSIVE. I love racing, so I’ve figured out a way to make it work in my budget… but I’ve got my eye out at races to make sure I’m getting my moneys worth. FOR example, you pay $40 for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington DC in the spring and you get no race medal and a crappy cotton t-shirt. I paid $25 to run the Charlottesville 10 Miler and I got a finishers medal and a Nike Dri-Fit technical tee. These are the kinds of things that jump out at me.

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So here are my thoughts on the Baltimore Half Marathon including value for the money and logistics. (DISCLAIMER: I recognize how difficult putting races on is, so these comments are more meant to be constructive feedback as opposed to whiny criticism)

PRICE: $90 (plus $7 transaction fee to register online… get you every time!) I registered in August. If I had registered before April 1st it would have been $80

PROS:

Crowd Support: People of Baltimore… you rock. Much of the race was through neighborhoods around the city, which is my favorite (nothing worse than running on a freaking highway). There were SO many people out with signs, kids giving out candy, people playing music from the porches. Some favorites included the group of people in a neighborhood playing “Good Morning Baltimore” from Hairspray, the two guys dancing on their car in tiger suits playing “Eye of the Tiger”, and the kids giving out candy corn on the longest hill of the race. Some of my favorites signed included: “If the marathon was easy, it would be called your mom” “Run a Marathon Today, Law & Order Marathon Tomorrow” and “JANICE – You forgot to sort the laundry” (<– that guy gets 10 points in my book for being hilarious). The crowds and the people are WHY I run races in different cities. Go Baltimore… you guys get an A+ on this one.

Course Support: This was  a big race but the volunteers / coordinators were on point the whole race. Plenty, plenty, plenty of water and Gatorade at every stop. I know most serious runners don’t drink as much as I do while racing, but dehydration is my #1 migraine trigger. After my first 10K, I got such a headache I took medicine and slept for 18 hours straight. I want to run a good race, but I always want to enjoy my life after. So I get water and gatorade at every station. The best part though was the HUGE fuel station they had set up at Lake Montebello. In addition to liquids they had mini Lara Bars, Power Bar Energy Bites, bananas, everything! I had my margarita shot blocks, so I just grabbed a mini Lara Bar for later. It was awesome. A+ for fuel.

Swag: The shirt is a semi-fitted Under Armour short sleeve and it rocks. I got a women’s medium and it fits perfectly. That style shirt retails for about $47.99. The shirts are also different for marathon, half marathon, and team relay, which I like (different colors and the race distance was printed on the back). When I ran my marathon in the spring, it was the same shirt for the full and half and I felt kind of jipped. I wanted a MARATHON shirt so everyone would know how awesome I am when I wore it. The medals were also really sweet. There was a very cool crab cartoon printed on them. A+ for swag.

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CONS:

Post Race Support: After runners finished they were funneled into a line to get space blankets, medals, water and Gatorade. I would’ve liked to have the water / Gatorade first because it took several minutes to get through the line (space blankets can be really difficult to pull off the roll quickly so that really clogged up the line). While they had bottled water available, the only Gatorade I saw was in cups. I took one cup but would’ve loved to have bottle Gatorade available to take with me. The food was pretty standard. No major complaints there. B for post race support.

Expo Setup: The expo was at the M&T Bank Center and I literally felt like I walked around the entire concourse to get all my stuff. You got your bag when you walked in the stadium, then you went upstairs and all the way to the left to get your number, then you walked all the way back to the right to get your shirt. Just felt like the critical stuff could have been closer together. The vendors were ok but not the best selection I’ve ever seen (granted I did get there later on Friday evening so maybe there was more earlier). I didn’t see my favorite… Hippie Runner 😦 B- for expo setup.

Transportation: Parking at the expo was no problem, but the way the races were set up (Marathon started at 8 am, Half at 9:45 am) meant if you were running the half, you needed to either drive in before the start of the marathon, or use public transportation. Not a HUGE deal, but Light Rail stations outside Baltimore are really not equipped to handle this number of people. The parking lots were full by 8 am and the only parking available was metered spots (there really isn’t a way to use a metered spot when you’re going into Baltimore to run a race). We ended up parking on the street several blocks from the Light Rail. We then waited in a long line to get tickets from the ticket machine (of COURSE a train came while we were in line… and then no one checked our tickets once on board BAH!). The trains were packed to say the least. At the end of the day, we got there and it was fine, but it wasn’t the best situation ever. B- for transportation.

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Baltimore Half Marathon – Race Recap

Hey all!! So on Saturday I ran my first race of the Fall 2012 season! Today I’m going to give you a recap of my race and then tomorrow I’ll write a race review about logistics etc.

Friday after work I met up with my friend Sarah, picked up her car at the White House (that is SO DC right?), and got on the road to Baltimore. We stopped in Greenbelt MD for a pre-race dinner at Hard Times Cafe. Not EXACTLY the typical pre-race fuel, but for a half I don’t really get into “carb loading”. I think it’s more important for the marathon. I also have a really easy stomach so I don’t typically worry too much. I had vegetarian chili on a salad. There were some tortilla chips for a little carby-goodness. Quick stop at the expo for our numbers, swag bags, and sweet Under Armour race shirts. This year the half was a really gorgeous deep purple (everything was either purple or orange… i personally prefer purple). Then we headed to Sarah’s husband’s grandparent’s house (haha yeah I’m a big old freeloader) and went to bed around 10:45 pm.

The half marathon didn’t start until 9:45 am (the latest race start I’ve EVER had) so we got up around 6:30 am and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast graciously provided by Grandma. She made up some scrambled eggs, english muffins, and vegan sausage patties… the royal treatment! We arrived at the Light Rail station at 8 am but this took us a while (more on that tomorrow), we arrived at M&T Bank stadium at 9:15 with 30 minutes to go over to the finish line, check our bags, pee, and get to the start. It was a little tight but we made it to the start line right as the gun went off. I said goodbye to Sarah and lined up with my group.

Miles 0 – 5 : I got started at a pretty decent pace. I realized walking over to the start that I wasn’t wearing my Garmin. Where was it? In my bag… checked at the finish line. Super duper. I figured since I was trying to run a smart race, I would go based purely on feel. My goal was to feel good the first 5 miles. The first five were lots of rolling hills. Nothing horribly long or horribly difficult, but definitely enough to notice. I was able to hold a steady pace throughout. I am definitely not the kind of runner who goes slow up hill and then fast downhill. I started off a little stiff too, but I loosened up a lot by the end of three miles.

Miles 5-7: I anticipated these to be the hardest miles of the race. However, the “big hill between mile 6 – 7” didn’t really end up being that big. It was longer than the other hills, which is why I thought it looked more challenging on the chart. In reality, the longer hill made the incline grade really manageable. There was a bigger than expected downhill section after the “big hill” too which was very nice. At this point I was starting to notice that my right hip flexor and left calf muscle were getting tight. This is when I started paying for my lack of training. I held on to my pace, but kept checking back in to see how I was feeling. I wanted to run a good race, but I didn’t want to get injured. I took opened my pack of Margarita Cliff Shot Blocks and ate my first block. These have 3 times more sodium and are supposed to help with muscle cramping. Luckily, the pain in my hip and calf dissipated as I reached mile marker 7 at Lake Montebello.

Miles 7 – 8: Nice and easy and FLAT around Lake Montebello. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous. Lots of race photographers, so I made sure to smile real big (even though I probably won’t buy any photos… they’re stupid expensive).

Miles 8 – 10: I really underestimated this part of the course. I was able to maintain but there was a hill between between 8.5 – about 9.5 that was a tough one. I think at this point I was also getting fatigued so that contributed. However, at this point, I was running with a bunch of marathoners. I thought to myself… these people are running this hill with 21 miles on their legs. I only have 8 on mine… SUCK.IT.UP. I took another margarita shot block hoping the extra sodium would help my legs.

Miles 10 – 13.1: Suck it up I did… and I emptied my tank. I dug deep and by the time I crossed the finish line I had nothing left. At this point, I kept thinking to myself, “You’re this close. And you’ve run every step of the way. Keep moving, keep running,” I ran every step of this race, including every.single.stinkin.hill. My normal “sprint to the finish” was not as sprinty as usual but I think that was a sign of running a smart race. I pushed myself to my edge, left it all on the pavement… insert other sports related cliche here.

I crossed the finish line and literally felt drunk. I could barely walk straight (I ran into another person like 3 times) and I vaguely felt like I was going to puke (I did not). I grabbed some ice for my hip flexor and stretched out for a solid 10 minutes. I drank two bottles of water and did finally manage to get a 1/4 of a bagel down. I ended up taking one final margarita block because my foot totally cramped up while changing from my sneakers to my flip flops.

Then I found my friends and got my post-race party on!!! I missed you racing. I’m so glad we’re back together. Let’s never fight again. I literally had no clue what my time was when I finished. I only saw the marathon clock, which said 4:07. According to my official timing, I finished in 2:13. That is my third fastest half marathon (my best is 2:08 and I did another at 2:11). Not too shabby for not training! It was really a good confidence boost for me… I’M BACK BABY!!

Sarah and I post race

I thought this cartoon crab was pretty adorable.

There are few things in the world I love more than a race medal 🙂

Race Review: Divas Half Marathon North Myrtle Beach

So as I mentioned yesterday I spent a beautiful four day weekend at my parents’ home in North Carolina. My friend Haley (who ran the Pittsburgh Marathon a couple weeks ago) and I ran the Divas Half Marathon in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It is under an hour from my parents’ place, so it was a perfect destination race! You know I love a good race review because racing is expensive, you want to make sure you’re signing up for quality events! I think I thought going into this event that it was women only, but I did see a couple dudes sprinkles in the crowd. I actually did my first ever half marathon in a predominantly female race (I ran the ZOOMA Annapolis Half Marathon in June 2011). It can be a really cool experience to be out there on the course with all other women, supporting each other, cheering, and yes, there is a lot of “wooing” (for those not familiar… it’s kind of like this… WWOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!). So ok enough dawdling here is my race review!


Haley and I just after the 5 mile marker

How My Race Went: I’m going to say… pretty good. Far from my best, but it definitely could have been a LOT worse (like the time I ran a half marathon in Savannah, GA with a knee injury. That sucked). I probably should have been done for the season after the marathon and given my body a break from training, but this race looked like so much fun, I really wanted to do it with Haley (who also just ran a marathon, so we were in the same boat). Haley and I started together and ran between 9:30 – 10:00 min miles for about the first eight miles. We saw my parents and Sarah at about mile 5, which was super fun (my mom finally got that cow bell she’s been wanting, and I heard that she was dancing in the streets like the fabulous woman she is). My right knee wasn’t feeling 100% at this point, which was odd because I’ve had no knee problems at all since February. My left foot also started hurting (I was concerned I was getting a stress fracture in this foot right before the marathon). All of this makes me sound like a grandma… gross. But basically, I know my body well enough to know that this was not going to be a PR day. Also, my Garmin died… super. At around mile 5, I decided that I needed to take it easy and enjoy this SUPER fun race. I had to stop and go to the bathroom, which I don’t like doing (it totally added like 4 – 5 minutes to my official time because I had to wait in a line!) but sometimes it must be done. Haley went ahead while I used the facilities, so I was on my own after that. During this stretch of the race, I realized how much I really enjoy running alone sometimes. Having a buddy is super fun, but it is also nice to just set your own pace and enjoy the solitude. It was also kind of nice running without the Garmin. It is an amazing training tool and I absolutely love having it, but after it died, I realized that I enjoyed not always checking my pace. I went with what felt good, and it was a nice change! My official time was 2:15:23, but I did lose 4 – 5 minutes with my BR break. Even with that, not even close to my fastest half marathon. But that’s ok! As Mike loves to remind me, you can’t set a PR every time you race 🙂


Coming to the finish line!

Pros: For lack of a better word I’m going to refer to this as a “gimmick” race, but not at all in a bad way! The same way Rock’n’Roll races are known for the bands / live music out on the course, the Diva Race is this amazingly frilly and froofy race with more women wearing tutus, fairy wings, and body glitter than my 1st grade ballet recital. If you are the kind of person who can get really into fun girly stuff (I TOTALLY am, but no judgment if you’re not), you’re going to love this race. The official race shirt is hot pink and super feminine, and every bib has the word “Diva” in front of your name (so my bib read “Diva Christina”… I believe you had the option to personalize it though, so it didn’t have to be your name. I saw one girl with “Diva Holla at Me” on her bib. 10 points for creativity). Their official merchandise at the expo is also super cute and pretty reasonably priced. I scored a hot pink singlet with a picture of a tiara on it that said “Run Like a Diva” (as seen in these pictures) for $22. The course through North Myrtle Beach was actually pretty great. It took you through all the different areas of North Myrtle, and there were so many people out cheering! Also, right before the finish line there is a feather boa and tiara station! Awesome, even though feather boas feel pretty gross when you’re sweating, it’s ok. I couldn’t get the teeny tiny tiara to stay on my massive dome while I was running so I just held it. When you cross the finish line you had the choice to get your medal from either a shirtless fireman or a knight from Medieval Times. I meeeaaannnnn… that wasn’t horrible. You also got a red rose and a glass of champagne! I cannot drink even a sip of champagne or I get sick, so Haley had mine too (she’s SUCH a good friend). Post race food was also pretty awesome. The race was sponsored by Vitamin Water so there was regular and Vitamin Water Zero! I got a regular Revive and a XXX zero.

Cons: You know I don’t like to go too negative and I want to reiterate that I loved this race and had an wonderful experience! But every event has one of two things that could be improved. I’d rather refer to this section as “constructive feedback”. They did not have assigned corrals, which was really ok with this size race (there were approximately 4000 runners), but they did not do a wave start.  I think that would’ve made the beginning of the race a little less congested. It thinned out just fine after a couple miles, as all races do. Wasn’t a huge deal to me, but perhaps if you were really looking to set a PR this would’ve been more of an issue. The event also included a 5K that started 20 minutes after the half marathon. The only problem was at one point the 5k course fed into the half marathon and the courses were not divided. Where I was in the race meant that I was running about 9:50 min per mile and the people who were coming onto the course in the 5K were walking. It got a little hairy there. I thought maybe if they had a course marshal out keeping half marathoners on the left side of the road and 5k-ers on the right side that would’ve reduced the confusion. That’s it 🙂

Final Summation: If you’re looking to do a first half marathon or looking to do a great race with a group of friends for fun… this race is for you! If you are a serious, serious, serious runner, this might not be the race for you. You need to be in the mindset of having fun, or else you’re going to miss out on what makes this race so great!