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I can’t believe it has taken me over a month to write this recap. The Louisville Half Marathon took place on Sunday, October 17th, 2010. Farrah (my running partner) and I originally signed up to run this half marathon earlier this year. We had a plan. We were going to train all summer and be ready for this race, no problem.

Problem!

Running over the summer was very challenging for us this year. As much as I prefer warm weather to cold, when it comes to running I am really sensitive to the heat. We spent many, many days at 90+ temperatures and for me that is just not conducive to running well. Farrah injured her foot over the summer as well. So we spent most of our time together walking or weight lifting.

When September came around, it cooled off slightly and I was able to at least get in a few runs here and there, including a 15k that I “winged” at the last minute (don’t try that at home). That gave me the confidence that I needed to continue on. But then, weather fluctuations kept happening, life got in the way, etc. When October 1st rolled around, we knew we needed to get down to business.

So we started a new running plan that has us running 5 days a week at various distances (mostly between 2-5 miles, with a longer run on weekends) and we decided that unless we are sick or injured, there are NO EXCUSES. If we want to become better runners and finish long races with smiles, we need to get serious. So we did. However, the Louisville Half Marathon fell on October 17th, a mere two weeks into our new program.

Could we do it? We didn’t know. Were we going to try? Heck yes!

The morning of the race we were both feeling good but not sure where the day would take us. I made enough songs on my playlist to cover 3 hours, which is about how long I figured it would take me. The first year we ran I finished in 2:12 and the year we walked was 3:30, so I figured somewhere in the middle was safe.

After the first mile, I lost Farrah as she took off into the crowd (this is not uncommon and doesn’t bother me in the slightest–she’s taller and more experienced, thus naturally faster). I decided I was going to run the first few miles and see how I felt. The first three came and went really fast, so I decided to shoot for 5. Then 6. When I got to the halfway point I walked for a minute, then kept going. One guy I passed said “You’re looking good, don’t give up.” 🙂

I kept waiting for the turn around point, which I knew would come at mile 8. When it did, I switched into walk/run mode because I knew that was the only way I was going to go the distance. I can’t remember the exact ratio but I would run for a while, walk for a little bit, then pick it back up. I did not wear a watch during this race, which at first was an accident but then it ended up being a blessing. I did not obsess about time and I just went with the flow, enjoying the view along the way.

The course was mostly flat, with a few inclines near the river and then close to the turn around. Running along the Ohio River was really peaceful. It went by so fast and I’ve never been able to say that about a half marathon before! When I came near the finish line, I saw Farrah, who ran the last 0.1 with me and my jaw dropped when I saw the clock.

I finished this race, a race I hadn’t really trained for, in 2 hours, 30 minutes and 58 seconds!!!

I was beyond happy and proud of myself. I was hoping to finish under 3 hours. I exceeded my own expectations in a way that I didn’t know I could. To say this race boosted my confidence in running would be an understatement. I must have thanked God a million times that day, for giving me the abilities that I have and the strength to use them.

The most amazing thing was that I wasn’t that tired. I went home, showered, ate, and went about my normal routine. I woke up the next day expecting to be super sore…nope. Farrah wasn’t either. We both felt like we hadn’t even run a race the day before. We must be doing something right!

Since then I have run one other race, which I will write about later. But in the month of October, I ran 78 miles and November has been going really well too. To follow my daily runs and thoughts, you can follow me over at the Daily Mile. That tool has been really useful for me and I don’t feel like I have to write a blog post about every. single. run. So I hope you’ll check that out!

Thank you for the support! I plan to get back to blogging regularly, both here and at See Sarah Eat very soon 🙂

On Saturday, October 16th, I joined several other people from our community (including some fellow members of the Louisville Vegetarian Club) in the very first Louisville Walk for Farm Animals, benefitting Farm Sanctuary, an animal shelter/charity based out of Watkins Glen, New York (with two farm locations, in New York & California).

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The 2.5 mile route took us through downtown Louisville, past several busy areas, including the new KFC Yum! Center. As we walked along, we each carried a sign, some with just words and some with super cute animal pictures.

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We also had pamphlets and information to share with people (I even left a few about the benefits of a vegetarian diet at the Diabetes Walk which took place that same morning).

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We also got to wear these cute T-shirts! 🙂

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About a month before the walk, we held a bake sale at Eternal Health Yoga, where we raised over $230 for Farm Sanctuary in one weekend! By the time the walk was over, we had raised over $1,000 for this organization!

We were very pleased with the turnout (around 40 people signed up!) and the amount of money raised, especially considering this was our first year doing this walk. I can’t wait to do this walk again next year!

For more information about Farm Sanctuary and the Walk for Farm Animals, visit this link. To see more photos from this walk and other Louisville Vegetarian Club events, check out the Louisville Veg Flickr page.

On September 25th, I participated in the Kentuckiana Start! Heart Walk benefitting the American Heart Association. This wasn’t a race for me but it was a pretty cool event that I felt was worth sharing with you here.

It was a chilly morning and I parked a little ways away, which allowed me to walk past the baseball stadium. I can’t believe my phone takes pictures this good, better than my camera even.

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Since we were walking and not running, we brought our 4-legged friends to join us. They need their exercise too! Meet Suzie (my dog, the Beagle) and her friend Alf.

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Alf also found his “brother from another mother.” Ha!

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University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong was there to deliver the kick-off speech. Both of his parents passed away as the result of heart and cardiovascular diseases, so obviously he is passionate about this cause. He also pointed out the survivors, who were wearing red hats. I was once again counting my blessings.

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As we walked downtown and across the 2nd Street bridge (I believe the walk was around 3 miles), I took a lot of pictures of things we passed by, including the new KFC Yum! Center, which if you live in Louisville, you either find really exciting or really disappointing. I can’t decide.

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Going across the bridge to Indiana!

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And one last one because it turned out cool and totally not how I intended.

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Hope you enjoyed this little recap! Obviously, I am passionate about running but I also enjoy a nice walk or anything that gets people to be active, especially if it means supporting a great cause.

Heart Disease is still the #1 killer of both men and women here in the United States. Let’s do what we can to make sure us and our loved ones don’t go down that path.

For more information, check out the American Heart Association webpage.

Komen 5K Louisville

I can’t believe it has been a month since I’ve blogged here! Especially when so much has happened recently. Let me tell you about a race I ran recently!

On Saturday, October 9th, I participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure here in Louisville, which was held down at Waterfront Park.

I joined a team from work and ran the race with my good friend and training partner Farrah. It was the perfect morning for a run; a little on the chilly side, but the sunshine kept us warm.

The course was flat and included a trip across the 2nd street bridge over to Indiana and back. Nothing too memorable. I didn’t go for a PR (finished in 32:42). I just took the opportunity to enjoy a nice 5k run on a Saturday morning and to help out a good cause in the process. It ended up being so much more than that.

The thing I remember most about this race is feeling overwhelmed and blessed at the same time. So many were walking and running with signs on their backs that said “In Memory Of…” or “In Celebration Of…” and it really hit me just how many lives are affected by breast cancer.

Image Source

I thought of my friend Erica and how awesome her story is. And she just a ran marathon by the way!!!

I also thought of my husband’s mother, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery not long before she passed away (from another cause). I was kind of mad at myself for not wearing a sign. Isn’t it sad how you can get caught up in your own life so much that you sometimes forget what others have been through?

I am truly blessed and I think being at this race was God’s way of showing me that. I am happy to be alive, happy to be healthy and grateful for my ability to run. I cannot take these things for granted.

It’s funny how we can show up somewhere thinking it’s no big deal and end up being completely moved. It was a beautiful day. 🙂

There were a lot of factors leading up to this race that made me wonder just how it would go.

First, my running/walking partner had to back out due to illness. So I was alone. Then, I disobeyed a lot of the rules of what not to do the night before, such as staying up way too late and drinking alcohol (not a lot, but still, you risk dehydration with that).

I also did not train properly for 9.3 miles. The most I have run recently is 5, but mostly 2-3 on average.

While this story has a happy ending, I still feel obligated to say: Don’t try this at home.

Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. after having just gone to bed at 2. I had a late night PB&J sandwich when I got home from a friend’s house, so I wasn’t starving when I woke up, but I knew since it was a long race that I would need the fuel. So I had some frozen waffles with PB and banana. And coffee!

When I got to the course, I had to use the “facilities” which were just 4 port-a-potties with a line of about 50 people. I thought about backing out but I knew I’d feel better if I just did what I needed to do before I started running. So because of that, I started the race a little more than 4 minutes late, but that’s okay.

I had no agenda.

I didn’t know whether I would walk or run or for how long. I wore an iPod but not a watch. I ran when I thought I could run and slowed down when I needed to. I took walking breaks as necessary and hit all but one water stop along the way.

The course wasn’t much to look at but it was flat, which was a welcome break from all the hills I’ve been doing lately. I think that is why I was able to run more than I thought I could. I don’t know how people did the 30k though (you had the option of 15k or 30k), I can’t imagine repeating the same course twice.

I was glad they had mile markers for most of it (all but mile 6, I believe) because it helped me pace myself and realize how much longer I had to go.

For the first 7 miles, I ended up running most of the way, taking a 1 minute walking break after each mile. I used my iPod to gauge the time, basically when the third song started, I walked until the first chorus. Some songs have shorter verses than others but I’m sure it all averaged out.

Toward the end, I was taking more frequent walking breaks, at every song instead of every third song. Have you ever used something other than a watch to pace yourself?

When I saw the 9 mile marker, I knew it was time to finish strong. Even though my legs were starting to get tired and sore, I kept pushing and crossed the finish line, astounded that I had just run most of a 9.3 mile race.

It’s amazing how far your mind will take you (or in some cases hold you back).

Here are my stats for those who are interested:

  • Distance: 9.3 miles
  • Time: 1:54:39 (I started more than 4 minutes late! So really 1:50!)
  • Avg. pace (based on official time): 12:18/mile

This race made me realize something else about myself: I am built for endurance, not speed.

As much as I like to challenge myself and beat PR’s, I think I am going to leave speed training to 5k races only. Once I go beyond 3 miles, I like to just settle in and enjoy the run, covering the distance regardless of time. Anyone else like that?

Because of this race, I am not at all nervous about the half marathon I have in a month now (which uses most of the same course). In fact, I’m hoping to get in a few more long runs before then, now that I know I have it in me! 🙂

I took a nice epsom salt bath when I got home, had a little nap and also did this for a while:

But I was also sure not to rest too much and get up and move around some too, which was easy since we had a friend’s birthday party to attend yesterday afternoon. I have found that helps keep me from getting too sore and I am feeling pretty good today thanks to these measures (and some Advil, ha ha).

I also did some yoga moves that a friend shared with me to stretch out my legs and hip flexors. My hips give me more trouble when I walk but it’s still a good stretch to do for prevention of tight muscles!

Have you ever surprised yourself during a race or in another fitness venture? How did it make you feel?

Pioneer 5k 2010

Subtitle: Cooler weather is my friend! 🙂

This past Saturday, we ran another 5k. This time, the run went through Seneca Park here in Louisville and the scenery was beautiful. It was a cool, crisp morning, so I ran in a long sleeved t-shirt for the first time this season. I foresee a very good Fall and Winter for myself, at least as far as running goes.

The first mile went really fast, as it was mostly flat and downhill, and when I crossed the guy with a watch calling out the times (“10 minutes even” he said as I strode by) I knew this would be a better finish than my last few 5ks.

The second and third miles had a lot of hills, but still weren’t as bad as those darned ones in Cherokee Park. Why does that place bother me so much? It’s such a beautiful park but I hate running in it.

Maybe it was because that was my first race in a while. Or maybe I just need to practice more there? I don’t know, ha ha. I do know that my preferences for running in parks goes: Iroquois, Seneca, Cherokee. Tom Sawyer park is okay but I didn’t really care for running in the grass.

Anyway, I digress. I finished the second mile in 11 minutes, so my time slowed considerably for those hills. But I did not have to walk at all! I just slowed down on the uphill and then let the momentum carry me back down the hill.

When we got toward the end and I could see the finish line, I ran as hard as I could while keeping good form. Farrah kept yelling “Put your arms down and use them!” Ha ha, I do tend to tighten up my arms, which is why my shoulders get so sore from running. Weird, huh?

When I crossed the finish line, I was so proud of myself. This is just the beginning of what is sure to be a triumphant return to running for me!

  • Distance: 3.10 miles
  • Time: 33:17
  • Average Pace: 10:42/mile

That’s a 3 minute, 29 second improvement over my last time! Hence the subtitle of this post. Cooler weather is definitely my friend.

Looking forward to my next race on September 19th — a 15k! That’s 9.3 miles people. Better start increasing my training distance 🙂

Three years ago

Sometime in September 2007, I decided that I wanted to run.

I had never really ran before, in fact I did my best to avoid it for most of my life. Even while playing sports in high school, I would pretend to have a cramp during practice so I could walk or fake an asthma-like attack, which I am so ashamed to admit.

But that’s the mentality I had back then, when I was unhealthy.

In early 2007, when I started my life over and became healthier, everything changed. I no longer wanted to get out of stuff. I wanted to conquer the world. Running had always been that thing I knew I “couldn’t” do and I wanted to prove myself wrong.

So, I went and signed up for a half marathon! Luckily, I gave myself 7 months to get there 🙂

In September, I started a 10 week running program to “learn” how to run with my friend Candy. We would meet at my house or a local park and go through the intervals, starting with 2 minutes of running/4 minutes walking, repeat. We all have to start somewhere.

I worked my way up each week, increasing my running time and decreasing my walking time until I could run 30 minutes straight. This program really worked for me. After that, I started focusing on mileage and followed a 16-week training program for the half marathon, including my first 5k, 10k and 10-mile races!

When I cross the finish line of each race, I am reminded of where I have come from and it overwhelms me. When I get down on myself, thinking I’m not training hard enough or running fast enough, I try to remember those times I faked an asthma attack or injury to get out of it.

Now I pay to run! Who am I? 😉

You can read more of my running story here, but I just wanted to take the time to remind you all that if there is something you want to do, go for it. Don’t think you can’t do it just because you never have before or because you had a bad attitude about it in the past.

Three years later, I’m still running 🙂