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KT Tape

First Marathon in the Books!

After more than five months of training, I finished my first marathon – the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona on January 14, 2018. I had never been more nervous for a race.  I had calls with my coach the day before and morning of the race. His last piece of advice to me was, “Breathe.”

Being around friendly fellow racers helped too. They all had words of encouragement when they heard it was my first complete marathon.

My race bib, shirt, and medal

Spectators Matter and Dogs!
The spectators for this race are awesome. Seeing their faces and hearing them cheer makes a difference. Some set up extra water stations; handed out orange slices, bacon, and beer; and held up signs. Hat tip to the spectators who made multiple appearances along the route. I was happy to see so many people with their dogs along the race route. Each one made me smile.

Your Backside Matters
More racers need to understand that their backside is entertainment for the people running behind them. I want to see more shoulder and calf tattoos and shirts with interesting backs. Several racers during the last 7 miles complemented the back of my shirt as they passed me. One said it was “dirty lie” because we were only at Mile 19. I responded that my shirt doesn’t say, “Last Mile.”

Watching so many people’s backs confirmed my idea of getting a variation of the Ignite Phoenix bird tattooed on my right shoulder blade and wearing t-back tank tops on race day.

How do these People Know my Name?
At several water stations, the volunteers cheered for me by name. I thought, “Do I know them? How do they know my name?” as I examined their faces for something familiar. And then I remembered, “Oh right, it’s on my bib.”

Still smiling after 26.2 miles and walking home from the light rail. Those numbers of my hand reminded me of when to take my gels.

“Coach, It Hurts.”
By Mile 20, I was in pain, and seriously contemplating whether I could finish the race without walking. I was afraid if I started walking, I wouldn’t be able to start running again. A frequent thought that crossed my mind was, “Coach, it hurts.”

During my training, I did a 23.8-mile run. Coach David said my body could handle the 26.2-mile distance, even if I had to walk the last miles.

I didn’t want to walk, or entertain that possibility, so I flipped from thinking about the pain to distracting myself by mentally going through gymnastics routines. (I was a gymnast for 17 years. I’ve completed many challenging runs with this trick.)

Mile 23 – 5K to go
At 5K to go, there was no way I was going to walk. Even exhausted and in pain, I could run a 5K. At the water station at Mile 24, a volunteer cheered, “Looking strong Ruth!” I didn’t feel strong, but appreciated it.

Mile 25 had the steepest hill on the course. I had some choice words for the organizers at that moment, and then I thought, “This is why I train on hills.”

Finish Strong
I had a good end of the race, coming down the hill at the end of the Mill Ave Bridge and turning the corner towards the finish line. I raised my arms and smiled as I crossed the finish line. Despite being in pain, I look happy in all my photos from the race.

I started walking after I crossed the finish line. I didn’t want to stop moving because I knew more pain would set in.

Post-Race Pain
Oh, and did it hurt. I had pain in my hips, quads, knees, and feet. I had been dealing with a sore ankle for the last week and taped it with KT Tape for the race. It did remarkably well during the race; I felt no pain until I took the tape off post-race.

I hurt so much after the race, I couldn’t get comfortable enough to nap after I got home and showered. Instead, I laid in bed for an hour and watched YouTube on my phone. I had Gatorade and chocolate milk after the race, and I didn’t want to eat for a few hours after the race.

The next day I had substantially less pain than I expected. Most of pain was in my quads. Surprisingly, I’m not going to lose any toenails from the race. I only lost one during training.

Got the Bug
I’ve heard marathoners are one-and-done or get the marathon bug. Even before this race ended, I was thinking about my next race. My goal for this race was to just finish. Now, I want to see if I can improve my time and feel stronger.

Here are my stats from this race:
Finish Time: 4:44:37
944/1852 Overall
344/809 Gender (Women’s)
63/141 Division

Day 66/90 – Living in KT Tape

Day 66 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? Wearing KT Tape on my foot and leg is keeping my pain under control and allowing me to go running.

My Leg in KT Tape - I always prefer Black

My Leg in KT Tape – I Always Prefer Black Tape.

I didn’t expect it to happen so soon, but I’m back in KT Tape.

I’ve been running more lately to get in shape to train for a half marathon this fall. I found a new 4.2-mile route through Papago Park that I love, but it has more hills that I’m used to doing. Even though I’ve been diligent about my running form, my feet and legs hurt – especially on my left side. When I roll the golf ball with my foot or roll The Stick across my lower legs, the pain is a 9 out of 10.

Last night I put the shin splint and plantar fasciitis applications on my left leg. They’re making the pain much more manageable. This morning I did a 4-mile run on a flatter route and the pain wasn’t as bad. Every day now I stretch my calves and arches multiple times at work and every night I use The Stick and foam roller on my lower legs. Thank goodness I’m a masochist because this stuff hurts.

The only downside of living in KT Tape again is I can’t be barefoot except when I’m in the shower. I wear socks all the time to help keep the tape in place longer – even when I’m sleeping. The upside of living in Phoenix is it’s so warm at night that I don’t need covers in bed so there’s less of chance of snagging my tape on my sheets.

I hope stretching and running on flat ground for a few weeks will be enough to bring my pain under control. KT Tape is awesome, but I prefer not to live in it full-time, especially with my race being 4 months away.

In case you missed it: Day 65 of the 90 Days of Awesome – I’m falling back in love with singing and serenading myself in the car.

Race Day Neuroticism

I got in email last week from somebody asking me to share my race day routine. I love the whole gestalt of doing races – the excitement, the comradery of all the participants and volunteers, and pushing yourself to be your best.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

I’ll be the first person to admit that I can be a bit neurotic, and so part of my race day routine is all about making sure I am aware of where I need to be, when I need to be there, and with all my gear. My race day routine actually begins a few days before the race when I go shopping for the food I’m going to eat the days before the race. I also print out my confirmation form for the race and alter the waiver so that the organizers can be held responsible if they negligently cause me to be injured during the race. (What can I say? I’m a lawyer.)

The day before the race is the expo where I pick up my race packet, and that’s when I usually start feeling really excited about the race. I love talking to my fellow racers and the vendors about running. I usually grab a few samples of products and I get my legs taped up with KT Tape.

When I get home, I get super organized so I can be ready for race day. I lay out my clothes for the race and pay in my race bib to my shirt. I put everything I will want to have after the race that I can in my gear check bag and I make a list of the things I need to remember to throw in my bag before I leave for the race. (I warned you I’m neurotic.) I try to get everything prepared for the race that I can – even things like having my coffee cup and the toaster out so I can make breakfast that much faster on race morning.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Post-Race

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Post-Race

The night before the race I usually treat myself to a big plate of pasta with veggies and chicken and I try to go to bed early. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon starts at 7:30 am, so that means I have to be awake, dressed, and get to my light rail station probably by 6:30. I’ll probably set my alarm for 4:45 just to make sure I have enough time to do everything.

Race day itself is always exhilarating. I’m always a bundle of energy as I force myself to eat a bagel and a banana and get some coffee in my bloodstream and get myself to the starting line. In the starting line area, I stretch out my legs and 20 minutes before the race starts, I down 2 ibuprofens and a 5 Hour Energy. I’ve heard you’re not supposed to take painkillers before the race, but that’s always been my pattern.

When my corral is that the starting line, I put my ear buds in my ears and turned on my race day play list of high energy music. My rules for most races are (1) Don’t stop and (2) Don’t die. It’s a pretty low bar to clear.

Marathon Training Week 11 Recap – Geez that Hurts!

11 by MaretH. from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

11 by MaretH. from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I am 11 weeks into Hal Higdon’s 18-week marathon training program. It was mostly a good week of training until this weekend when the excruciating pain started. I switched up my aural entertainment from podcasts to mostly music and it made a big difference.

Here’s the recap of the last week:

Monday: Monday is usually a rest day, but I knew I’d be hiking on Thursday so I did the 4.5 miles I was scheduled to do on Thursday today. I entertained myself with my race day playlist. It’s easy to zone out with good music and just run in time with the rhythm. It was a little chilly but it felt good towards the end. I didn’t have any real pain until Mile 2 or 3 when I started having a little discomvfort in my hip, left calf, and left shin/post-tib. I was pretty sure I was going to need KT Tape on my left shin and post-tib for Wednesday’s 8-mile run and Saturday’s 16-mile run.

Tuesday: I accidentally slept in today so I ran my 4.5 miles in the afternoon. It was an uneventful run – just my standard pain in my left shin and right hip.

Wednesday:  I ran 8 miles early morning and watched a beautiful sunrise. It had hip pain from Mile 1, but it wasn’t that bad. I wore KT Tape which helped but it didn’t stay in place very well. I ordered Tuf-Skin when I got home. That stuff makes tape stick like glue.

I’m stepping up my push-ups this week: 5 sets of 25.

Thursday: Today was the Annual No Guilt Thanksgiving Hike with my cousin Marian. We hiked 5 miles up Shaw Butte. It was a good trek with good conversation, and as a bonus, I felt no pain.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I had a Forrest Gump moment during today’s 16-mile run. I started my run just as the sun was coming up and I was running next to a park that has some beautiful red rocks. There weren’t any cars or people around and I could just begin to see the sun peaking up over the horizon. It was very peaceful and gorgeous.

The run went well. I listened to Profiles with Malone and Mantz followed by my race day playlist. I put KT Tape on my left shin and post-tib and I was annoyed that it wasn’t staying on even though I followed all their directions – and then I realized that I got this roll of tape almost 2 years ago. The adhesive is probably drying out.

I felt good after my run until the evening when my entire body started to hurt – especially my chest. I felt like someone stomped on my sternum and kicked me in the ribs.

Sunday:  Holy crap my chest hurt this morning – but some ibuprofen helped take the edge off. Instead of biking, I went hiking with my friends at the Wind Cave Trail. It was 4 miles with a lot of rocks to climb. Toward the end, my legs and glutes could definitely feel it. After the hike my chest was killing me. Some of the people on the running Subreddit suggested that I might have a posture issue. I definitely plan to hit the Runner’s Den injury clinic this week to get their opinion about this.

After a nap I felt much better and cranked out 4 sets of 25 push-ups.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  33 miles (130.6 miles total for November)
Hiking:  9 miles
Push-ups:  225 push-ups

Marathon Training Week 10 Recap – Masochism Begins

under 10km/h by kssk from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

under 10km/h by kssk from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I am 10 weeks into Hal Higdon’s 18-week marathon training program. I needed KT Tape last week and after a few days, my leg felt well enough to run without it. Yay for that! I’m still having ongoing hip pain but my physical therapist friend suggested a stretch that helps a lot.

Here’s the recap from last week’s training:

Monday:  It was a chilly 46 degrees this morning. I didn’t feel like running in the cold and I definitely didn’t want to take the time to find my cold weather running gear. So I ran on the treadmill for 4.5 miles, and I ran my face off. I was done in 37.5 minutes. I wanted to be done so badly I cranked the speed up to 8.5 for the last few minutes. Hat tips to The Creative Giant Show and The #AskGaryVee Show for keeping me distracted and entertained.

Tuesday: Rest day.

Wednesday:  I ran 7 miles today. It was 52 degrees outside when I started so I ran in long pants and long-sleeved shirt. I was warm enough that I could have been in shorts and t-shirt by the end. I was entertained by an episode of the Dr. Drew Podcast with guests Anna David and Mike Carano. I laughed out loud several times.

When I got back from my run, I cranked out 100 push-ups: 4 sets of 25.

Thursday: It was another chilly morning, and since I worked from home today, I waited until 9am to run my 4.5 miles so I could run in the sun. I made the mistake of listening to my Christmas playlist today. Although it has some awesomely powerful songs, there were way too many ballads in the mix to be good for running. Plus it made me sad because it reminded me that I’m away from my family on Christmas.

Friday: Rest day.

Saturday: I ran 15 miles today – the longest run I’ve ever done. Ever. I filled the 2.5 hours by listening to episodes of The Dr. Drew Podcast, The Daily Show Podcast without Jon Stewart, and a repeat of Profiles with Malone and Mantz featuring John Hughes. My hip handled the pain pretty well but it still hurt, as did my foot and my knee by the end. I started hating myself around mile 11. The last few miles were not pretty, but they got done and that’s what matters. It takes a true masochist to voluntarily run this far “for fun.”

Sunday:  I did a 19-mile bike ride today for cross training. It was only about 50 degrees when I started and I was only wearing shorts and a t-shirt, so it was pretty chilly. On the upside, it was like I was icing my body as I was inflicting pain on it. I can definitely tell that my quads are getting stronger and have more definition.

When I got back, I finished my push-ups for the week with 4 sets of 25.

Weekly Totals:
Running: 31 miles
Biking: 19 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Marathon Training Week 9 Recap – Back in KT Tape

Number 9 Sign by tedeytan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Number 9 Sign by tedeytan from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

KT Tape is my friend. When I did the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona half marathon in 2013, I think my feet and legs were taped up from November until after race day in January. Since doing physical therapy for my shin splints and re-working my running form earlier this year, my pain is greatly reduced, but I’ve been plagued by post-tib pain in my left leg lately. So I’m back in KT Tape for the foreseeable future. Here’s how this week of training went.

Monday:  Rest day. My quads definitely feel like they ran a half marathon yesterday. My neck and back are bit sore too.

Tuesday: It was a chilly start to the day – only 58 degrees when I started my run. I’ve given up on running on the treadmill and elliptical at the gym. Running in the real world may take longer, but it’s a lot more fun. I listened to an old episode of the Evo at 11 podcast wile I ran 4.5 miles – thanks for making me laugh.

When I got back, I cranked out 100 push-ups: 4 sets of 22, 1 set of 12. I wonder, once I get up to doing 4 sets of 25, if I could increase it to 6 sets of 25, twice a week. I think that would be more efficient than doing 100 push-ups, 3 times week.

Wednesday:  Another chilly morning run with Evo at 11 – 7 miles this time. It wasn’t that painful, but I felt like I was running exceptionally slow for the last 2 miles.

Thursday: I had an early morning event so I moved today’s run to tomorrow. I finished my push-ups for the week in the evening: 4 sets of 23 and 1 set of 8. The last 3 reps of each long set were a bit challenging. I expect to be up to 4 sets of 25 by the end of next week and hope to be up to 6 sets of 25 within 2 weeks after that. I love having muscle definition in my arms.

Taping my Post Tib with KT Tape - I'll probably have my leg taped up most of the time until after the marathon

Taping my Post Tib with KT Tape – I’ll probably have my leg taped up most of the time until after the marathon

Friday: I was in hurry this morning so I didn’t heat my hip before running 4.5 miles. That was a mistake.  It hurt like hell by Mile 2. The Creative Giant Show, a new podcast by Charlie Gilkey, kept me somewhat distracted.

When I got back from my run, I decided it was time to step up the care for my left post tibialis that’s been sore so I taped it up with KT Tape. You can wear KT Tape for as long as it stays in place so I’ll be wearing and sleeping in knee socks for the next 9 weeks to keep it from rolling and catching on things.

Saturday: I ran 10 miles today, and yes, I heated my hip before I headed out. It still hurt but it was much more manageable. As usual, I was entertained by the lovely Scott Mantz and Alicia Malone with their Profiles podcast. They featured Julia Roberts this week. I was bummed when they announced that they’re taking next week off so I’ll have to find something else to entertain me during my 15-mile run.

Ironman Arizona is tomorrow. On the second half of my run, I saw a lot of fit people riding very expensive-looking bikes. I assumed they’re all Ironman athletes getting in one more ride before turning their bikes in for the race.

Sunday:  It was weird getting on my bike after having a week off from cross-training. I rode for 19 miles and I noticed the ride is starting to get easier, except when I ran into a pretty strong head wind around Mile 3.  I hope it doesn’t cause any problems for the Ironman athletes.

I think I’m starting to experience the constant soreness I’ve seen in other friends who are marathon runners and triathletes. Sometimes it hurts less to run than walk, and sometimes it hurts all the time, especially my hip when I go from sitting for period of time to walking around.

Weekly Totals:
Running:  26 miles
Biking:   19 miles
Push-ups: 200 push-ups

Marathon Training for the RnRAz 2015

My training program for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon 2015 begins this week. I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon every year for four years (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013), (PR: 1:52:04), but then I had to sit out 2014 due to shin splints. Now that I’ve finished physical therapy and learned a new running posture, I’m ready to do another long race.

Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 - Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2013 – Pre-Race with my Uncle and Cousin

I will be using one of Hal Higdon’s marathon training programs for the next 18 weeks. I’ve used his half marathon training program for my previous races with a lot of success. It’s easy to lock in to his program of how far to run on what day. I’m a little worried about how fast the mileage climbs on the long run days.  I’ll be running 10 miles by week 5. In his novice half marathon program, 10 miles is the longest run you do before the race and that’s in week 11 of a 12-week program. I hope my legs and feet can handle the stress.

I am grateful to be in the best running shape I’ve ever been in heading into a training cycle. I’ve been consistently running and stretching since March as part of the rehab from my injuries. I’m currently running 22 miles a week (2 4.5-mile runs, 2 6.5-mile runs). For previous races I was barely working out so the first 3-mile run of training was painful.

Since I’ve been running so much, I’m slightly modifying Hal’s program for the first 13 weeks. If the run in Hal’s program is less than what I would have run on my own, I’ll run the longer distance. For example, the first run in Hal’s program is 3 miles. I’d normally run 4.5 miles that day so I’ll do that distance instead.

I’ve also heard that the route for Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon has a decent hill around Mile 20. So right when I expect to really hate myself, I have to climb a hill. (This will be awesome for a masochist like me.) My training will definitely include some hill work to prepare for this. There was a small hill in the last Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon I did and I could easily tell whose training included hills and who only trained on flat ground.

My Foot and Leg in KT Tape before the Rock 'n' Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2012

My Foot and Leg in KT Tape before the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Half Marathon 2012

Hal’s program adds 1 day of cross training to the mix. I’ll probably bike 12-20 miles on those days but there may be some hiking and other fun on those days. I think I also want to add some upper body and core strength training by doing push-ups 3 days a week – just push-ups, not the 100 Push-ups Challenge.

The real challenge in doing a race is staying dedicated to the training program. I don’t know if non-runners appreciate how much time and dedication goes into preparing for a race. The race itself is filled with excitement, fanfare, and comradery with your fellow racers. Race day is easy – if nothing else you have adrenaline to get you through it. The training is hard – long hours of pounding pavement rain or shine (most likely by yourself), scheduling your life around your runs, potentially living with perpetually sore muscles, and taking care of minor injuries. (I literally lived in KT Tape my last two training cycles.)

I’m looking forward to training for my first full marathon and being able to share the journey with you.

Recap of the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Another race, another personal record – I finished the 2013 Arizona Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in 1:52:04, 28 seconds faster than last year’s time. Given that pain has been an issue for most of my training for this race, I was only hoping to finish in less than 2 hours. I was ecstatic when I saw that I did so well.

2013 half marathon pre raceI went into this race thinking that this would be my last half marathon. I was grumpy on the light rail as I headed downtown to the expo to pick up my race packet. As I approached the convention center, I started to feel antsy and by the time I was riding the escalator to the room where the expo was being held, I was completely giddy. There’s something about the running community and the camaraderie of doing a big race that makes me excited.

I planned to get my packet, get professionally taped at the KT Tape booth, grab a sample of 5-hour energy and take off, but I ended up spending over an hour there chatting with people. The physical therapist at the KT Tape booth sent me over the to The Stick booth where one of the guys worked on me and I ended up buying my own The Stick after experiencing how well it increased muscle circulation.

2013 Post RaceThe race day was awesome. I met up with my uncle and cousin in the “warm zone” before the race. Brand X Custom made me an awesome custom race shirt for the race that said “Masochist” across the chest and “Run Bitch” across the back. I learned last year that the back of your shirt entertains and motivates the people running behind you so the “Run Bitch” was as much for myself as my fellow runners.

I don’t wear a watch when I run so I don’t know what my pace is except to note the official race time at each mile marker. Instead, I’d find someone ahead of me that I thought was going slower than me and try to catch them.  There was a bald sweaty man that I ran with most of the race. I nicknamed him “Friend.”  If Friend got in front of me, I’d make it a priority to catch up to him. Friend kept me motivated. Around mile 10, I kicked it into high gear and I didn’t see him again until the finish line. He finished about a minute behind me. I thanked him when I saw him in the post-race area.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission

Photo by Jeff Moriarty, used with permission

The best signs I saw along the route were “Chuck Norris never did a half marathon” and “Running is mental – and you’re all insane.” I hope the crowd knew how much their cheering and signs were appreciated. It makes the race much more bearable. My friend Jeff lives near the marathon route and he kept those runners entertained with a variety of snarky signs. According to him, a lot of people thanked him for being out there.

When I first finished the race and I saw how well I did, I thought about not giving up half marathons . . . until the ibuprofen and caffeine I took before the race started to wear off. My legs held up well during the race, but they were sore the next day. My amazing masseur had his work cut out for him. I’m not going to run for at least 2 weeks and let my legs recuperate.  I think I want to stay in 10K shape, meaning I want to be fit enough that a friend could ask me on a Wednesday to do a 10K race the following Saturday and I could say, “Yes” without worrying about embarrassing myself.

Special kudos to the race organizers and all the volunteers who helped make this race happen. You guys did a fantastic job.

And for those who care, here’s how my race results compared to the field:

  • 1853rd overall (top 14%)
  • 544th for my gender (top 7%)
  • 121st in my division (top 10%)

If you want to see my results and my goofy race photos, you can look me up here. My race number was 4040.

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Will 2013 Be My Last Half Marathon?

I’m starting to give serious consideration to hanging up my running shoes after the 2013 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. This will be my 4th time doing the race and it seems like every time I train for a half marathon, I run a personal best, but I also go into the race more injured than the previous race. Here’s the breakdown of all my half marathons to date.

Photo by Crystal O’Hara

2010:  No major injuries during training (Race time: 2:09)
2011: Shin splints – left leg (2:06)
2012: Shin splints – left leg, Left foot pain (1:52)
2013: Expect to run with pain in both shins and feet

For the 2011 race, I was barely able to train because of my shin pain. That was my most painful race ever. I started hurting during mile 2 and it got worse the more I ran. By the end of the race, you couldn’t hug me because everything hurt – including my internal organs hurt. I started using KT Tape when I was training for the 2012 race. I spent the last month of training with my leg taped up. By race day, I needed tape jobs on my leg and foot. This year I practically started training with my leg taped up and I added a foot tape job last week. I pulled back on the intensity of my training to let my legs rest a bit. My left leg did fine with last weekend’s 6-mile run/walk but now my right leg and foot are starting to hurt too. It makes me wonder if it’s time for new sport.

Before getting into running, I was a gymnast for 17 years. I love being athletic. I was a competitive gymnast for 8 years and I had a plethora of injuries – shin splints, knee problems, back problems, and chronic foot problems. When I retired from competition, I was recovering from a stress fractured lower back. My doctor suggested I take up yoga. I joined a regular gym and I tried it. I found weight lifting to be boring and yoga was challenging, but it gave me no sense of accomplishment. I missed the pounding of my hands and feet against the ground and doing flips. I haven’t found a suitable substitute for gymnastics – there’s nothing like it.

I’ve tried a few other sports but nothing’s clicked for me. I fenced for 1.5 years in college and that was pretty fun. On the advice of my coaches, I took swimming as a PE class when I was in college. I really tried to like it but it did nothing for me. I really didn’t like that I couldn’t tell when I was sweating. When I moved to Phoenix, I got into hiking because I didn’t think running was an option given my history with injuries. I enjoy getting out on the mountain trails, but it doesn’t give the sense of satisfaction I want.

I openly admit that I don’t like running – I like being a size 4. I’ve learned that I won’t work out unless I’m training for something. With running, there’s always a race I could sign up for. I appreciate that training for a half marathon puts me on a 12-week structured training program so I have to work out 6 day a week. But now I’m wondering if it’s worth it to do it again after this race. If I give up running, I’ll need to replace it with something…and I have no idea what that would be.

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Lessons from the 2012 Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Photo by Crystal O'Hara

I completed my third half marathon this past weekend. My goal was to finish the race is less than 2 hours. I destroyed that goal & finished in 1:52 – 14 minutes faster than my previous personal record.

1. The Race Will Accept An Altered Liability Waiver.
I alter every liability waiver before I sign it. The race organizers wanted to avoid all liability, no matter what. I have no problem accepting responsibility if I trip over my own feet, but if they run me into oncoming traffic or a pit full of tigers, I want to sue them. This year, I wrote in a provision that stated that the altered agreement superseded all previous agreements. I’d never written in a provision & I was pleased when the race accepted it.

2.  KT Tape Is A Godsend.
I had issues with shin pain during training. I wore KT tape on my leg almost every day between mid-December & the race. It made it possible for me to finish my training with minimal discomfort. At the pre-race expo, KT Tape had a booth where they provided free tape jobs. I had them give me a fresh tape job on my shin & one on my left foot that had started feeling sore. I felt no pain in my foot or leg for the entire race.

3.  Stay In Front Of Your Pacer.
The organizers provided runners who maintained a particular pace for the race. Each one held a stick with a sign on it indicating what pace they were keeping. In my starting corral, there was a runner with a “2:00” stick. I knew I had to cross the finish line before him to accomplish my goal.

My friend’s dad suggested that I get at least a quarter mile in front of my pacer. My pacer was supposed to run 9:10-minute miles, but pacers aren’t human treadmills. They’re faster some miles & slower others. It’s best to get in front of them & stay there. Once I got in front of my pacer, I was afraid he’d overtake me. It kept me motivated to keep my speed up.

4.  The Back Of Your Shirt Matters.
In the past, I started the race with my friends who are faster runner than me, & as a result, I was passed more than I passed others. This year I had the opposite experience. I learned that the back of your shirt provides entertainment for the people running behind you.

Photo by Tyler Hurst

5.  Having A Cheering Section Makes A Huge Difference.
I saw my friends & family at miles 8, 11, & 12. Seeing the familiar faces & hearing their voices boosted my spirits. I remember being at mile 4 & thinking, “Only 4 more miles ‘til I see my friends.” After I saw my friends, thinking about them kept me motivated until I saw my next cheering section at mile 11. My friends humored my masochistic side by yelling things like, “Move your ass, Bitch!” In aggregate, I saw my friends & family less than a minute of the race, but having them there made a huge difference.

I also need to give a huge hat tip to the supporters who made multiple appearances along the route. They would be at the sideline to see their runner to go by, jump in the car, drive to another part of the race route, & be there again. That takes some serious planning & dedication. Even though they weren’t there for me, I appreciated their support in general.

6. Put One Foot In Front Of The Other & Believe.
I knew I was running faster than the pace I needed to finish the race in under 2 hours. The race clock at every mile marker helped me estimate my pace. Everyone around me was running so fast, & I had serious doubts that I could keep up my pace for the entire race. I took a risk & believed that it was possible to have such a strong finish. I nearly started crying at mile 12 when I saw that it would take a disaster to not finish in under 2 hours.

I was beyond pleased when I saw that I finished in 1:52 – average pace: 8:36. It still blows me away that I did so well. It’s a reminder that amazing things can happen if you give yourself permission to give it your all.