I always start my race prep by laying my stuff out a few days beforehand, so that I have a few days to figure out if I've forgotten anything! My Race Day Essentials are:
- Hydration Belt
- Sport Beans &Salt Tablets
- Sports Bra, Shirt, Pants
- Garmin Watch
- Timing Chip and Bib
- Jacket (which I "check" before I run)
My husband ALWAYS wakes up with me on race days. He usually makes my breakfast and chats with me as I get everything ready. We sit together and eat breakfast and it's really the only time he ever gets up with me before runs (on normal days at 5am, I just sneak out of bed quietly and let him sleep!). I know not every husband would get up at this unGodly hour, but Mr. Howard is SO ridiculously supportive of my running and wants to show his support! I usually wake up at least an hour before I have to leave and I have a cut-off time in my head for water. I'm not sure what other people do, but for me - I want to spend my time running, not stopping at the bathrooms; so I have found that if I stop drinking water about two hours before I run, I'm good. I do, however, wake up early and drink LOTS of water before the cut-off time and then drink LOTS of water while I run.
This was my first time doing the Folsom Blues Breakout and it was by far the smallest race I've done. I'm not sure how many people officially did it, but it had to have only been a couple thousand. It was also interesting because where you were dropped off, you actually walked past the starting line and then got in line behind. They probably made 50 announcements before the race for people to go on the OTHER SIDE of the starting line, because people were still hanging out in the way.
I run/walk, so my pace group is a little further back. But I sort of prefer it that way. I don't want a whole bunch of faster people blowing by me and feeling like I'm in the way. I like my back-of-the-group peeps. Yes, I just said "peeps." If it makes you feel any better, had you heard me say it outloud, you would have even been more embarrassed for me. I say it like a 90's rapper. It's nice because at my pace group, you see the same people, starting at about mile 8. People usually aren't passing you by then, so you've got a good group of people around you to run with. For a couple miles, we got stuck next to a man blaring Johnny Cash slow songs. I understood the point - it was a Johnny Cash themed run, but have you ever run to slow music? Not the most motivating of music! We couldn't wait until we outran him and could run with a group who wasn't blaring their music.
The route for this run was really beautiful, but a couple of miles of it was in the direct sun. Yikes. So darn warm. I was thankful I had trained around Lake Natoma, so I knew that shade was coming; I just kept focusing on that during the warm, sweaty miles. Some people would rather not know their course for the run, because then they know how far they still have to go - but I sorta like it. I like knowing where shade is...where the hills are...and how far I've gone! Sure it makes the beginning hard because you know how far you've got to go - but I'll take that trade off any day.
Because the run started early, we were able to see the sunrise over the lake. Few things are more breathtaking to me that sunrises over lakes. But, hopefully, you can also tell how warm that would be with the sun reflecting on the water. It was probably only in the 70's, but when you're running 13 miles with the sun directly beating down on you and no shade for miles, it is warm.
My friends and I did most of our training runs together (either the three of us or some combination of two of us) and so it was fun to run with the girls I trained with the whole time! I'm a talker while I run and, to me, it just makes it go so much faster when you can chat with friends. I used to be a music runner, but with good company - I've given up music.
I run with a group called Moms Run This Town and there are chapters of us all over the United States. We met up with another local chapter before our run and got a picture and an opportunity to meet each other before we all ran!
My husband is pretty adorable at races. I always feel bad asking him to come, because it means that he has to take the kids by himself. Some of my runs, other family members have come too - which makes it easier on him, but I LOVE that he says he doesn't care if he has help or not and that he'd NEVER miss it. He tells the kids constantly how proud of me he is and encourages them to be in awe of my running. "Do you know Mommy ran THIRTEEN MILES!? Isn't that amazing!! Aren't you proud? She is such a fast runner!" The kids, of course, model this language that they hear their Daddy say and constantly tell me, "Mommy I'm so proud of you! You're so fast!" It's sweet that my husband encourages me SO much!
The kids' favorite part is getting to wear my medal around the house. They also like to tell random people in the grocery store that "Mommy has lots of medals at home because she wins her races!" Adorable!
My final time for this race was 2:47:50 (which is a 12:49 mile). My goal was to get it under 3 hours, so I was really SHOCKED with my growth. I was not expecting to get so far under!
For those of you who are new to this journey, you may not know that this is my third half marathon. Here were my results from all three:
- Oct. 13, 2013 - 1st Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 1 minute - 3:05:59
- Mar. 16, 2014 - 2nd Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 2 minutes - 3:01:37
- Oct. 17, 2014 - 3rd Half Marathon - Walked 1 minute, ran 3 minutes - 2:47:58
What is my point in telling you this?!? If I can do it, YOU can do it. Seriously. I started by running 1 minute and walking 1 minute. I promise you: there is some amount of running ANYONE can do. Whether it's run for 10 seconds, walk for 10 seconds...or running for 10 minutes...Start somewhere and JUST KEEP AT IT. Every time I tell people I ran a half marathon or "run" half marathons - I have someone who says, "Oh I could never," but I'm here to tell you that if you want to do a half, you can.
I live my life by this motto: Whether you think you can or think you can't, you are right!