Hey no-meaties, I thought I’d give you a little change of pace today with a mid-week guest post. Rachel writes the blog Shedding It and Getting It, and she has a fantastic, energetic attitude toward fitness and body image. She’s training for the Disney Marathon in January, and she just finished her first half. Here she is to tell you about it. Enjoy!
Hey everyone! I’m Rachel from Shedding It & Getting It. Earlier this week Matt did a guest post for my Meatless Monday feature, and shared his awesome recipe for pasta with butternut squash. Now it’s my turn for my very first guest post! Just call me the Sometimes-Meat Wannabe Athlete.
I say “Wannabe Athlete,” because even after losing 70 pounds and completely changing my outlook on food and exercise, I don’t always feel like a real runner or a real athlete. Right now I’m training for the Disney Marathon (Matt’s 21 first marathon tips post definitely got me excited about it!), but there are days when I couldn’t feel less athletic. One of those days was two weeks ago, when I ran in the Detroit Free Press Half-Marathon.
Things got off to a good enough start. The night before, I went out to dinner with my fellow blogger and buddy Leah, and we had yummy – but still healthy — food before calling it an early night. I stayed at her place, since it was closer to Detroit than my house. They say you shouldn’t do anything different the day of a race, so I brought along my typical breakfast foods (pimped-out oatmeal, coffee) so I’d feel my best.
It was dark and cold when we lined up, but the energy of the crowd was fantastic.
That energy stayed with me… at first. I was just loving life, enjoying the view, getting excited to run through Canada. And then at the third mile, I was struck with the overwhelming urge to vomit…and it stuck with me for the next ten miles.
I chugged along the half-marathon course, wanting to give up the entire time. I drank water, hoping it would help, but it didn’t. At one point, volunteers handed out M & Ms to runners. It was supposed to be fun, but when I saw that, I felt myself turning green. Not only was I feeling physically ill, I was getting emotional. I had a marathon to keep training for, after all. I looked at all the excited half-marathoners about to be done with this race and their training, and I got so frustrated that I was still so far from my ultimate goal. I did manage to run the whole way – slowly, painfully. When I finally crossed the finish line, everyone was happy and cheerful; I just wanted to crawl into a hole.
I was so upset with myself. How could I let this happen!?
After a good shower and some really good pasta, I was able to think straight, and realize that I made a few careless mistakes that added up to huge problems.
First, I went out to dinner the night before the race. This isn’t a huge deal, but I love cooking at home, so I rarely dine out. Even though I got something carby and pretty healthy, I didn’t have as much control over my ingredients as I normally do the night before a long run. The morning of, even though I had brought my typical oatmeal supplies, I put dark chocolate chips in the oats. I do that pretty regularly, but I’ve never done it immediately before a run. I also changed up my coffee a bit. I like my coffee very sweet, so I indulge with a little sugar-free Hazelnut and one packet of Splenda. I forgot to bring that with me, so I used milk, plus agave in place of Splenda. Well, I used too much (agave is even sweeter than sugar)! I remember drinking it and thinking, “Hm, this is really sweet, even for me.” The pure sugar plus the sugar and the fat in the chocolate was too much. Plus, it was 5:00 in the morning! Lack of sleep tends to make me queasy anyway, but have you ever chugged caffeine on an empty stomach because you’re up really early for something? It usually doesn’t leave you feeling great! Honestly, I felt bad as soon as I got in the car, but I ignored it, thinking it was just nerves. But I really wasn’t nervous at all.
Even though I was disappointed I hadn’t achieved a perfect half-marathon and experienced a runner’s high, I started to get over it. Bad runs happen! I had a disastrous time on my first 10-mile run, but I was fine when I did it again a few weeks later. My 11 and 12-mile training runs had been absolutely wonderful. I figured that next week’s 14-mile run would probably be great too. (It was!) I didn’t regret thinking I could do a full marathon. (Cause I can!) We all have bad days and bad runs. Sometimes they happen in the privacy of a nice trail, and other times they happen on the bridge to Canada. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t serious, or that we aren’t going to make it to the ultimate goal.
So if you’re training for a race, or just thinking about running in your first race (by the way, stop thinking and just register already!!), try to remember that no one is perfect, and not all runs are perfect. With a lot of miles under my belt and my toughest month still ahead, I have to remind myself of that more and more. That’s my “getting it.” Don’t try to be perfect all the time! Some runs will not go according to plan! One run is not going to determine how the rest of your training goes physically; so don’t let it throw you off mentally. No matter how slow you are or how much you struggle, you’re a million times better off than the people who are sitting at home, refusing to even lace up their sneakers.