ROAD TRIP PLAYLIST

Running

Giants” – Dermot Kennedy
Living on the Edge” – Aerosmith
Come Together” – Gary Clark Version
Greyhound” – Swedish House Mafia
Perfect” – Logic
August” – Taylor Swift
Till I Colapse” – Eminem
All the Way Up” – Fat Joe
Blinding Lights” – The Weekend
Sad Sad City” – Ghostland Observatory
Automobile” – KALEO
I’m Gonna Be” – The Proclaimers
Where is the Love” – Black Eyed Peas
Shotgun” – George Ezra
Magic in the Hamptons” – Social House
Sweet Home Alabama” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
What a Man Gotta Do” – Jonas Brothers
ME!” – Taylor Swift
Same Love” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
Honey, I’m Good” – Andy Grammar
Vienna” – Billy Joel
Pompeii” – Bastille
Wild Wild Love” – Pitbull
Hard to Forget” – Sam Hunt

TO FUEL OR NOT TO FUEL

Fuel

Do you eat before you run?

Okay. I mean. Most say that you should fuel up before a run – ESPECIALLY before a race – but why? We all know that it helps to sustain your energy, keeps you going, helps to ensure sure you don’t crash mid-run… but I’m a morning runner – and I don’t always LIKE – or have TIME – to fuel up before I head out.

But what’s actually best?


Here are a few things to consider when figuring out what is best for YOU:

TIME:

How long do you need to digest your fuel?

And, according to Mayo Clinic – digestion time varies between individuals and between men and women. What does this mean for you? It means that IT DEPENDS. You may need to experiment and explore with different foods, times, and combinations before you find what’s best for you personally. What else does this mean? It means that when someone is telling you exactly what you should do – BE CAUTIOUS. Nobody knows what’s best for you except for…well… you.

Whatcha been eating all week?

Fueling up isn’t only about the pre-run snack or meal – it can also include everything you’ve been eating for days prior – and EVERYONE’S NEEDS ARE DIFFERENT. For me personally, if I eat too big of a meal the night before my race – I’M GOING DOWN. Seriously. I’ve had to move my “pre-run” meal to the entire week before the race. If I eat too late – say, carb-loading the night before the race – personally, my body definitely does not have time to process what I’ve eaten. When this happens, I get sick, have more cramps, and sometimes have a “heavy” feeling that keeps me from running as fast as I can. Finding what works best for you takes time though, and lots of trial-and-error. It’s taken me 6 years to figure out what’s best for me personally, and I’m still learning (and my body is always changing). So make sure you consider the fact that your body is using fuel that it has stored over time – not just from the morning of the run or race.


TYPE:

What type of run are you doing?

Long runs?

Lizzie Kasparek, R.D., sports dietitian for the Sanford Sports Science Institute – suggests “eating two to four hours before a long run.” Long runs require much more energy – which means you may not have adequate fuel in your system to keep you going without a little pre-run snack or meal. However – with this fuel – comes a digestion time. It’s important to consider how much you’ve eaten and how much time you’ll need to digest it before you head out for that longer run!

What about shorter runs?

According to Vishal Patel, chief sports nutritionist at Nuun, if you’re going out for a short run (say 3-4 miles) – you can likely “skip the pre-run meal or snack.” Why is this? Because your body may actually have enough energy stored up in the form of carbs and nutrients to get you through the run. HOWEVER – AGAIN – it is all about your personal preference and needs. If you find that fueling up before a short run best enhances your performance – GO FOR IT. Everyone has different nutritional needs, and you know those needs best.


FOOD:

What are you fueling up with & how much?

It’s also important to fuel up on the RIGHT KIND of foods if you’re going to be eating that pre-run snack or meal. And not just the right kind – but the RIGHT AMOUNT as well. We all know what high-fiber foods do… so maybe lay off the broccoli & beans before you go for your run. But fueling up on some carbs & protein – Kasparek suggests – can be quickly turned into energy to use on those runs. A little oatmeal, some toast and peanut butter, a power bar – just a few options to keep that energy high. But make sure you’re consuming an amount that optimizes your performance. Personally, I eat a power-bar a few hours before a race. It’s light enough that it doesn’t feel like a huge meal – but it gives me enough energy to get me through.


BOTTOM LINE:

It’s all about finding what’s best for you. And it will take a little bit of exploration and experimentation. Everyone has different needs, bodies, and schedules – and therefor, we all have different pre-run preparation. Finding what works best for you is an ever-evolving process, and that’s okay! Just keep exploring and enjoying the process! Share your pre-run fuel plan below!




SOURCES:

Heather Mayer Irvine Freelance Writer Heather is the former food and nutrition editor for Runner’s World and the author of The Runner’s World Vegetarian Cookbook. “Unsure What to Eat Before a Run? These Ideas Fuel Every Distance and Sit Well.” Runner’s World, 3 Apr. 2020, www.runnersworld.com/nutrition-weight-loss/a20853304/what-do-i-eat-before-my-race/.

Laurel Leicht Updated August 14, and Laurel Leicht. “What to Eat Before, During, and After Running.” Health.com, www.health.com/fitness/what-to-eat-before-running.

Luff, Christine. “Why Should You Eat Before a Run?” Verywell Fit, 2 Apr. 2020, http://www.verywellfit.com/should-i-eat-before-a-run-2911547.

Runner’s Train of Thoughts

Running

A Runner’s Train of Thoughts

Diary of a Half Marathon

​As we walked back to the car after half marathon #28, the sun slowing beginning to warm the air around us, I couldn’t help but laugh out loud as I recalled the outrageous number of thoughts that had cycled through my mind during the hour and a half I was running. When you’re running, for any amount of time, you inevitably find your mind wandering to people, places, basically ANYTHING to keep your mind off the moment, off the negative thought train. You know, the one telling you that you’re tired, out of breath, maybe hot, probably too cold, your legs definitely hurt, your head hurts, wait, everything hurts. 

Now, that train might not be so bad when you’re running a mile, two miles, even three miles, but… when you’re running 13!? Boy. Does your mind go some funny places to avoid that taking that train. Like… really funny places….


The Starting Line


Oh God. Where do I stand? Right here, okay, cool. This is my spot. Perfect. This person is way too freaking close to me. And how does he already smell? We haven’t even started running yet. Oh wait. Is that me who smells? No. Ok. It’s not me… yet. I am definitely going to smell by the time this race is over. Ew. But. Maybe it will be worth it. Maybe I’ll win. Or not. Maybe I’ll be last. No. Ok. You won’t be last. That won’t happen. Stop thinking that. When the hell is this thing going to start anyways? And WHY IS THIS PERSON SO DAMN CLOSE TO ME AGAIN? Should I move up? Maybe I’m faster than that girl. Or maybe not. Maybe she’ll pass me and I’ll look like an idiot. Ok. I’ll just stay here. OH SHIT. HERE WE GO. 


The First Mile


Alright. This isn’t so bad. This is great! I’m not even cold anymore. I am on top of the fucking world. I might even win this whole thing. Wouldn’t that be fucking sweet? Oh shit. She passed me. Ok. Just one girl. No big deal. WTF ANOTHER ONE?! Ok. These people are NOT messing around. I need to go faster. NO. I can’t. Remember that time you completely overexerted yourself and then died at the end? Yeah. You hated that. Especially when they tried to force you into that ambulance after you made a joke about the defibrillator looking like a boombox. I mean, it did look like a boombox. Don’t do that again. You’re fine. Just run your race. It’s literally the first mile. You have 12 more to make it up. These people are so dang fast though. What the heck did they eat for breakfast? OHHHH I’m gonna pass you, HAHA! Sucker. I’m cruising now. What?! Mile 2? God I feel like I’ve been running forever. 


Miles 2-8

Alright. Mile 2. We got this. We are feeling good. Let’s just keep this going. Wait. What is that pain in my side? Is that going to get worse? Oh great. At least I have that to look forward to. No. You need to stay positive. Do not start thinking about the end yet. We literally just started. At least you’re not dying yet. Remember that race in Arizona? Yeah. Nothing is worse than that. At least I didn’t get high last night. At least I’m not high right now. Yeah. I’m feeling good! This is great. Okay. Let’s focus on our pace. Should I look at my watch and check how fast I’m going? No. Let’s just run our race and see what happens. But. Also. Maybe I should look at my watch and just check. No. No Amy. Oh a dog!! That store looks nice. I wish I had enough money to shop there. An ice cream store! Yes. I can totally afford that. What was the name? Shit. It’s gone now. Oh well. Alright. Let’s re-focus. FOCUS AMY. Just one foot in front of the other. We got this. I CAN DO IT. 


Miles 8-11

THIS IS TAKING FOREVER. My legs hurt. Everything freaking hurts. I feel like I am going so slow what the hell is happening here. I don’t care about that dog. Ok. Maybe I do a little bit. Aw. Look at that. A little girl holding a sign. I should give her a high five. But that would mean having to take several extra steps. I’m not doing it. But she’s so stinking cute. Ok fine fine fine, DO IT AMY. YES. So glad I did that. You are such a good person. Okay gotta get my head back in the game here. What’s my pace? Oh. Wait. That pace is actually pretty good. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m dying right now, I’d be super pumped about that. TWO MORE MILES OH MY GOSH. Ok. Let’s just slow down and then go faster for the last two miles. 


THE END IS NEAR!

I’m ALMOST THERE. I can do it. I am on fire. SHIT he passed me. I need to pick up the pace here. How much further is it? Shit I really have to pee. Okay just one more mile. I CAN DO IT. Maybe I should go faster. SHIT what is that pain in my side?! Ok. Don’t go faster. Just relax for now until you get a little closer. But everyone else around you is picking up speed, you HAVE to go faster. OH MY GOSH THERE’S THE FINISH LINE. I wonder where my mom is. I should smile. I can’t smile, I’m too tired. Okay let’s just sprint this final stretch. One. Two. Three. GO. HI MOM!!!!!!! Finally. I’m done. That was amazing. 

South Carolina

States

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

State #30

​Location: Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Half: BEACH RUN
Date: June 4, 2020
Finish Time: 1:43
Pace/Mile:
7:40/mile
Who’d I travel with? Nick
Pre-run meal? Pasta, pizza, some red wine, and a shit ton of Moscow Mules

Guess I’ll Just Make My Own Damn Race…

Just a few months ago I had my shit together, man. I had races planned for nearly every single month of 2020 – new places to travel, exciting races to participate in, bigger goals to achieve… and then… Corona Virus. Covid had such an unforeseeable impact on so many – and I refuse to complain about something like my races being cancelled when I compare those races to the life changing damage done to so many others. So, instead, I decided to continue my journey anyways.

Running wasn’t cancelled. Road tripping wasn’t cancelled. Exploring wasn’t cancelled. So, I decided that instead of participating in those now-cancelled races I had registered for, I would simply make my own. I would still travel each month to different states and run my own 13.1 miles in each one. I decided that I will still explore new places and spend precious time with people I love... Starting with…

SOUTH CAROLINA

And guess what?! After 9 hours of being trapped in a car together… he STILL LOVED ME. I know, pretty amazing. After a long car-ride and a bit of a mishap with the lock at our Air B&B, we were finally settling into what would be our home for the week. When it comes to Nick & I, I have to admit that we’re a bit of a competitive couple.. Okay, we’re an extremely competitive couple. So, when we saw that our place was right next door to several putt-putt courses – well, it was pretty obvious where we’d be spending most of our vacation.

In case anyone was wondering… I won (well, I won at least one game out of four). The remainder of our vacation was split between relaxing on the beach (where I forced Nick into listening to the remainder of our true crime podcast), eating LOTS of food (where Nick gently encouraged/forced me to try oysters), and playing soccer with a volleyball in the sand (where we both completely embarrassed ourselves by pretending we still had the same touch on the ball that we had when we played in college).

Let’s pause for a moment here to talk about South Carolina’s race preparation – or rather, the lack thereof. Due to the fact that this vacation was FREAKING AMAZING – I wasn’t overly concerned with strictly preparing myself to run. Life isn’t just running. Life is spending all day long at the beach, drinking Moscow Mules and playing corn-hole and mini-golf in the afternoon sun, ordering Hawaiian pizza at 9 p.m. because Nick and I got lost in a crime podcast once again while drinking a bottle of wine on our patio. Life is so much more than trying to be “good” at running, or trying to always do your absolute “best.” Sometimes, other things are simply more important. And, you know, that whole lack of preparation thing likely would have been fine… had it not been for Nick’s suggestion (or challenge, rather) to run my 13.1 South Carolina miles on the beach. But hey, at least my emotional tank was full, right?

Morning came, and…well…Nick and I slept in a little later than we had planned (classic). Sometime around 9 a.m. we finally stumbled down to the beach for my “race” to start. Nick dragged a stick across the sand to create my starting line as I continued to panic about the race (who knows why, but I was still my normal pre-race nervous-Nelly self even without an actual race). See evidence below.

Eventually, I finally came to terms with the fact that I was about to run 13.1 miles in the sand – so, I waved goodbye to Nick and took off down the beach! Let me be clear here: RUNNING IN THE SAND IS THE HARDEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE. I am not kidding. I have experienced many terrains during my 29 states – the hills, the heat, the humidity – and yet NOTHING compares to the challenge of running in the sand. Nothing. It feels like you’re putting all of your effort into each and every step, yet you’re somehow just still moving so dang slow. For the first 6-7 miles, I simply tuned the world out and enjoyed the scenery as I bobbed and weaved between beach-walkers and sand-castle-makers – simultaneously trying to avoid the approaching tide. And although it was hard as hell – it was also incredible. It was a once in a lifetime type of run – the type of challenge I wouldn’t have thought to try, or even have had a chance to, had it not been for the change of plans this year.

The last few miles were by far the most challenging. My calves felt like they were going to explode (I don’t recommend trying to run 13.1 miles the FIRST time you ever try beach-running). My body simply wasn’t prepared. I’ll spare you some of the details, but, essentially, I added a bit of additional mileage to my race due to the fact that I had to keep running up and down the beach to the garbage cans (that whole pizza and wine combination ultimately didn’t go so well). I was freaking EXHAUSTED as I approached the final stretch. But. The moment I saw Nick standing there, my spirits rose. I was so excited to hug him, to celebrate with him, to share the entire experience with him. I crossed the home-made finish line he had prepared while I was running and collapsed into the sand. Armed with water in one hand and alcohol in the other – he congratulated and hugged me (despite the extreme amount of sweat being inevitably transferred to him).

After a quick splash in the ocean, it was time to celebrate! We spent the remainder of the day drinking, laughing, exploring, and social distancing, of course. State #30 was so unique – sure, my time wasn’t great, my preparation was… welll, there was no preparation, and my body wasn’t necessarily equipped to run that far in the sand – but you know what? It was absolutely perfect. I had challenged myself to do something I had never done before, and I did it. I ENJOYED myself without stressing the whole time about my performance or my time. I took a road-trip and vacation with someone I love. And even though there wasn’t an actual race…

I had still run 13.1 miles in my 30th state!

.

The BEST & WORST Pre-Race Fuel

Fuel

So, it’s the day before the big day; you know, pre-race day. Usually, for me, that either means I’m…

1.) stuck in a car for four thousand hours driving somewhere
2.) traveling by plane & getting settled into some unfamiliar city
3.) exploring a city that I’ve already arrived at the previous day

Sometimes I’m like super-woman: packing healthy snacks, drinking my 150000 ounces of water, and indulging in foods which are said to predict the perfect performance. Anddddd then sometimes I’m like Amy – drinking 3 glasses of wine, an order of cheese fries, and a pre-bedtime milkshake with a cupcake on the side. So, let’s take a look at the best and the worst foods I’ve fueled my body with before the big day – and whether they truly did or didn’t impact my performance. 


The BEST:

Idaho. Hands down. Hardest I’ve EVER tried to be the perfect athlete. Alright. Picture this (and keep in mind, I didn’t lose my shit through any of it). It’s Friday. I’m at school teaching preschool children who are out of their mind because, well, it’s Friday. I manage to hydrate, ALL DAY LONG, despite the fact that this means I have to call an administrator every 40 minutes to go to the bathroom. I PRE-MAKE pasta the night before to bring to school; because all of the articles say that a pre-race lunch should actually be the one in which you consume your carbs for the race. So. Like I said. I FREAKING PREPARE PASTA and have it at the correct time of day.

Fast-forward a bit, keeping in mind that I am still hydrating all day long. I leave school at 3 PM and get on a plane to Idaho. I avoid ALL of the Starbucks, Cinnabon, airport snack traps; and manage to fill my water bottle again before hopping on my plane. I arrive at my connection airport (where I am meeting my mom) – it is now approximately 6 PM; we have one more flight before arriving in Idaho at approximately 9 PM (I know, sleep wasn’t going to be a priority for this race- so I had to make sure my nutrition was on point). AGAIN, I avoid all of the snacks that the airport offers. I get a QUINOA CHICKEN SALAD at the airport – who does that???? Me. Because I was being a rock-star. I managed to:

  • Eat my carbs at the appropriate 2 PM time slot
  • Hydrate all day long – and have nothing but water after 9 PM. 
  • Quinoa chicken salad with lots of veggies – a light dinner
  • Have NO ALCOHOL

Performance Impact?

Well. It didn’t. This race was absolutely nothing special – performance wise. I finished at 1:36 and ultimately took place as second female. Don’t get me wrong – a lot of things could have impacted this, the route, the altitude, the temperature, the other individuals in the race/the competition, etc. What I’m saying, though, is that it didn’t make me some super-human runner that managed to accomplish something crazy because of what I consumed. For the most part, you should try to still eat something pretty health, just so it doesn’t hinder your race-day performance – but, what I’ve found below, is that it ain’t the end of the world if you go a little outside the recommended diet. 


The WORST:

Let’s be perfectly honest here. There was absolutely no way that I was going to be able to abstain from nutritional defeat in Las Vegas. No freaking way. The race could have been 2 hours after I arrived and it wouldn’t have mattered. But to make matters even worse, the race was at 7 PM THE NEXT DAY. This meant I had a whole day to trot around the city trying all the food and alcohol I could find (or afford). Before race #2 I managed to consume the following around 8 PM. 

  • Nachos – complete with every fixing you can imagine
  • 3 beers and a Moscow Mule
  • DEL TACO – YOU GUYS. DEL FREAKING TACO. I had a Las Vegas fast food dinner. Unreal. 
  • A late night buffalo chicken sandwich with fries
  • 7/8th of a piece of chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream 
  • Sunchips. Because. Why not at this point?

Performance Impact?

Well. It didn’t. This race was at 7 PM and somehow I still managed to finish with a time of 1:38 AND place second in my division. Again, so many things go into how one races – the day, the week (for my female readers), your fuel, your training, the time of the race, my travel situation, temperature, altitude, the atmosphere of the race. But I was in Las Vegas – I wasn’t going to sacrifice my enjoyment of the trip for my performance – but ultimately I didn’t have to. My fuel, no matter how shitty, didn’t impact my performance in the negative way that I had assumed it absolutely would. Which leads me to the point of this post… 


BOTTOM LINE:

​Don’t sacrifice your experience for your performance
Performance can only be elevated by your genuine enjoyment of the race. Don’t panic about what you fuel your body with – try your best, and if you can’t, then say fuck it and run your best race anyways. Only you can determine how your race will go- and sometimes it doesn’t even matter if you have Del Taco the night before – you’ll still kick ass anyways. 

How Important is Hydration?

Fuel

How important is it to get that agua in each day? Why do I need to drink it? & what happens if I don’t?

Getting enough water each day can be a HUGE challenge, especially since we’ve become so accustomed to such a fast-paced lifestyle with demands and distractions in every direction. But, and I am speaking some real truth here, YOU CANNOT PUT OFF YOUR HYDRATION. Getting enough water in is VITAL to your performance in any physical feat and your overall health and wellbeing. Read below to figure out why…


WHEN YOU’RE ON TOP OF YOUR HYDRATION GAME: 

We’ll start with the PRO’s of getting enough water – because – well, it’s always good to start with the good. Getting enough water is like the secret weapon of productivity. When you are fully hydrated your body is more effective, more resilient, more attentive, and overall just performs STRONGER, QUICKER, & BETTER.

Here are a few areas where you will see the impact of getting those glasses in: 

  • YOUR SKIN AND HAIR: When you are properly hydrated, your body can flush out more shit. Enough said.
  • YOUR WEIGHT: When you drink water, you fill your body up. It’s like a magic trick. If you fill your body with water, you can cut down on some false hunger cues, curb overeating, and boost your metabolism. Yes. You read that last part right. When your body isn’t hydrated, YOUR METABOLISM ISN’T AS EFFECTIVE. SEE FOR YOURSELF HERE MAN. Also, like, water will help you flush some stuff out…. if you catch my drift. Goodbyeeee constipation. Hellooooo water. 
  • YOUR ENERGY:  Your body needs water to be able to function properly. Obviously. But even MILD dehydration can cause fogginess, lack of energy, and feelings of fatigue. On the flip side; staying properly hydrated can give you a boost (especially when you know you’re making a healthy choice) which can rev up momentum for taking your next positive step in the day. 
  • THE CREAKS & CRACKS:  Water will help to coat your joints and nourish your muscles. This helps them operate effectively and efficiently. It helps YOU get a better lift, and your BODY recover. Hydration is essentially your insurance policy. 

WHEN YOU FALL OFF THE HYDRATION BUS:

Mid-day headaches? Annoyed with anyone and anything? Bit of dizziness keeping you down? Fatigue keeping you behind? Lack of energy at the end of the day? These are just a few of the MINOR issues that occur if your body isn’t getting enough water. And in the long run, not staying hydrated can lead to a slew of much more serious issues including heat injuries (especially for runners & athletes), kidney/urinary complications, seizures, and moreYour body absolutely, positively, NEEDS water to be able to operate effectively. Without it, your body will start to shut down. Here’s how…

  • TIRED AS SHIT:  Okay… guys. Who likes feeling tired? Yeah. That’s what I thought. Nobody. And this is just one of the FIRST signs that your body is lacking water. When you don’t get enough water, your body is exhausted. It has to WORK HARDER to do the things you do. It has to use MORE ENERGY because it is NOT RUNNING AS EFFICIENTLY. You will feel tired…. and that is gonna really bring ya down productivity wise. JUST BE SMART & DRINK MORE WATER.
  • YOU’RE NOT YOU WHEN YOU’RE THIRSTY:  When you’re not getting enough water your MOOD will be worse. Think about it: when you are tired, have a headache, have a cramp, etc…. You’re not gonna be happy about it. And this could impact your relationships, your job performance, and basically everyone and everything around you. Don’t be that guy. DRINK MORE WATER. 
  • WEIGHT GAIN:  As I said earlier, drinking water can help to curb cravings and boost your metabolism. On the other end, if you’re NOT getting your water, weird shit happens man. You get MORE cravings, your body metabolizes SLOWER, and because you’re so damn tired, YOU’RE LESS LIKELY TO WORKOUT. Don’t to this to yourself. DRINK MORE WATER. 

Bottom Line:

JUST DRINK YOUR WATER.

Wisconsin

States

Green Bay, Wisconsin

State #2

​Location: Green Bay, Wisconsin
Half: Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon
Date: September 21st, 2014
Finish Time:
Pace/Mile:

Who’d I travel with? Melissa, Cliff, Rob, Mom, Marsha  
Pre-run meal? Pretty sure it was fast food of some sort…

Alright… Maybe Just One More…

​So, half marathon #2… not as glamorous. It was basically out of convenience. There happened to be a half marathon that my cousin Melissa’s husband was running in Green Bay, and this happens to be where 99.9% of my family members live. We travel back and forth from Ohio to Wisconsin at least 4-5 times a year to visit my siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, grandparents, you get the point. But anyways, we were back to go on our annual apple-picking trip with the entire family. And it just so happened that there was also a half marathon this weekend, so, I ran.

My training wasn’t as exciting this time; I barely even remember if I did train. I’m sure I did because my time improved. I can’t recall what I had to eat the night before, or nearly anything except for one thing: I slept on the floor of my sister’s house, with 2 cats (I’m allergic to cats), and was just unpleasantly surprised by mother nature’s gift for the month. I was less than thrilled, but I was ready to run.

It was actually a beautiful course. It’s funny how you’re running for 13 miles yet you can usually only recall bits and pieces of the run. Like what the hell was I doing that I didn’t take in the surroundings for 8/13 of the miles? But I do remember running through a few parks, running by some water, and the fact that I hadn’t yet faced my first “there and back” (I actually didn’t even know there was the potential for such dreadful things in a race of this length). It was a beautiful run, and it left me ready to keep running. 

West Virginia

States

Somewhere in, West Virginia

State #15

Location: Somewhere in, West Virginia
Half: Veteran’s Half Marathon
Date: March 3, 2018
Finish Time: 1:34
Pace/Mile: 7:10
Who’d I travel with? Mom, Kristen, and Mike
Pre-run meal? Uh. Dairy Queen I think? Oh and Pies & Pints! 

Uh…What Just Happened? 

I mean… at least I only have to do West Virginia once, right? So maybe #15 wasn’t necessarily the MOST exciting of steps in this journey; but hey, 15 is one one step closer to 50 right? Plus, it wasn’t all bad. 

Or wait. Maybe it was.

But. At least West Virginia is just a stone-throw from Ohio, right? Well. Of course, ya girl picked the absolute southeastern most part of West Virginia to run my race… strike 1. But the weather must have been mild in West Virginia right? Well, evidently West Virginia isn’t necessarily any warmer than Ohio in March… strike 2. And strike 3? Well. Strike 3 requires a little bit of an explanation. 

It was finally the moment that I had waited for the entire race – the final mile. As I rounded the last corner of the course and the finish line finally came into view, I could see my mom and my sister among the spectators lining the last stretch. I was so close, I could hear them screaming to sprint the last leg – and that’s when it happened. That’s when I turned around and started running… in the opposite direction – away from the finish line. The look of dismay on my mom’s face at that moment – she looked as though she might jump the barrier, stomp out there, and carry me across that line herself. But I was determined, determined to finish this race. 

I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about. Well. This race was held on a Motorsports Track, and couldn’t have been marked any worse. Essentially, once you started running, you were now a rat, running around in a maze, praying you made it to the finish line at some point. I couldn’t even keep track of the amount of times that I got lost. I was running in circles out there, just trying to find my way to 13 miles. So, when I finally did find that finish line, I checked my phone and saw that I had only run 12 miles… So I did what any dedicated runner would do – I turned my ass around and kept running (making sure not to stray too far from that finish line – or it would be another 13 before I found it again). Anyways – long story short – strike 3 was my inability to navigate anything larger than a preschool playground. 

But hey.. it’s definitely a finish I’ll never forget. 

Washington

States

Seattle, Washington

State #23

Location: Seattle, Washington
Half: Mud and Chocolate Half Marathon
Date: April 15, 2019
Finish Time: 1:36
Who’d I travel with? Brett
Pre-run meal? Chocolate. Just kiddingggggg. But honestly… I don’t know, probably because I had too much chocolate. 

MUD AND CHOCOLATE (LOTS OF CHOCOLATE):

From Louisiana, to St. Louis, to Seattle. Three months, three races, three states, three adventures. Seriously. At this point, I was banging out 13 miles left and right and hopping on and off planes as if I knew what I was doing, or knew how to actually navigate an airport. Seattle, Washington – state #23. I was traveling with Brett, and, since he’s quite the planner (thankfully, because I am not), we had a ton on our agenda already – he had already looked up the best places to eat, to drink, to play games – we (he) had everything planned out. Until approximately 10 minutes before landing; at which point, we realized, Seattle, Washington has legalized some things recreationally that, well, aren’t necessarily legal elsewhere. 

NOW. I AM NOT SAYING THAT WE ENGAGED IN THIS TYPE OF RECREATION. GOSH. WHO DO YOU THINK I AM. Also, not sure if you read my post on my Arizona adventure already (if not, check it out for a better understanding) but, again, I will say that I really, really, enjoyed Seattle’s fine chocolate and gummy bear selection. And again, I consumed WAY TOO MANY FREAKING GUMMIES AND CHOCOLATES. I’m just trying to live my best life here, okay guys? Anyways, as I was saying, we had everything all planned out. Until we found chocolate. And gummies. 

We were Air B&B-ing it again this trip. So we found our place, settled in, and ate chocolate till we passed out. When we woke up, it was finally time to explore Seattle. But first, a 5 mile run through the Seattle forests. This trip was unique because, for this particular race, there were two races: a 5 mile race on Saturday, and the half marathon on Sunday. Brett really wanted to do the 5 mile race. So, like the supportive girlfriend I am, I ran it with him on Saturday before my own race on Sunday (did I mention there was MORE free chocolate at the end of the race? I mean, it wasn’t quiteeeee like the chocolate we already had back in our room, but it was still some damn good chocolate). It was pouring out, but underneath the tall trees you couldn’t feel a single raindrop. We were completely sheltered by the forest canopy, and I couldn’t get enough of it, any of it. It was absolutely unbelievable– the trees, the paths, the leaves and pine needles all over the ground. Honestly, I couldn’t wait to be able to explore 7 more miles of it the following day. I got first female in the race – scoring myself a nice coffee mug and some more free chocolate (chocolate seemed to be the theme of my Seattle trip). After our race, we finally showered and got ready to explore the city of Seattle (but first – another piece of OUR chocolate —– bad idea in hindsight). 

Guys. Don’t get me wrong. Seattle is absolutely unbelievable. But. I’m not going to lie here. This day will go down in the history of my life as one of the funniest days I have ever experienced. I mean. Here we are. In this city that neither of us have ever been to. On the furthest reach of the US. Completely confused and lost. And laughing at literally everything. Except the guy who we thought was a security guard at the Space Needle – he wasn’t funny until after we realized that he wasn’t going to arrest us for anything, but rather, was just going to point our dumbasses in the correct direction to go up it. We explored everywhere (I’m not sure how we navigated our way around the city, but the picture evidence says that we made our way around pretty well). We went to the Gum Wall (who knew that was there???), the Space Needle, and the Pike Place Market. At the end of our day-long adventure, we got some food and finally made our way back and crashed to recharge for my race in the morning. 

It was the morning of the race and we were in the middle of the forests of Seattle…completely soaked. It was raining from the moment we got to the registration table until the moment they blew the whistle for us to begin racing through the mud to the finish line. Luckily for me, once I start running, everything becomes background noise. From previous experience, I decided it might be a good idea for me to start near the front of the pack to avoid bobbing and weaving around people as I passed – this ended up being a very good idea. As I started running, I realized that I was quickly ahead of the pack – the whole pack. Literally. I couldn’t see anyone in front of me, and nobody had passed me yet.

This race was a 4.5 loop, which means I had to run the same route three times before finally detouring to the finish line. As I started my second loop, the man at the water counter shouted, “KEEP IT UP YOU’RE IN FIRST!” And in that moment, I decided, I was going to win the damn thing. I was flying through the woods, cutting corners, weaving between trees, conquering hills and speeding down the slopes. With just a mile left, I knew I was still in first place, and I wasn’t going to stop now. I kept going, maintaining my pace and my focus, until the finish line was in sight. And when I saw it, I sprinted through, shocking everyone because a female had won the race (WOOHOOOOOO!). It was my first overall win, and I couldn’t have been more proud, or more excited; because, like I said, there was free chocolate at the end of the race, and I got first dibs. 7:30 minute miles, 1:36 finish time, first female, first overall finisher, YES. 

I shoved chocolate of all kinds in my face as my body finally started to calm down from the rush of excitement. After a few more cupcakes, it was definitely time to celebrate. After a long shower to get the mud off, we drove back into the city to explore, and continue, our adventure. We went to Rachel’s Ginger Beer (SO. FREAKING. GOOD), got a sundae at Shug’s Soda Fountain (because I really needed more chocolate)and played connect 4 as we watched the sunset at a little wine bar in Pike Place. It was absolutely perfect. State #23 will always be remembered for it’s first place finish, mud, and-of course- the chocolate. 

Virginia

States

Lynchburg, Virginia

State #6

Where? Lynchburg, Virginia
State?  #6
Date?  July, 2016
Race?   Lynchburg Half Marathon
Finish Time?   1:50:00
Pace?   8:20/mile

HOT, HUMID & HEADPHONES

State #6, otherwise known as I’M MORE THAN HALF WAY TO 10! #6 was in Lynchburg, Virginia. Who knew Lynchburg was hilly? Not me when I signed up, that’s for sure. Who knows Lynchburg is 98 degrees with 95% humidity in the middle of summer? Not me, that’s for sure. But like I’ve said before, every single state is an adventure and an irreplaceable step in this journey.

This was also the first half marathon that my mom wasn’t able to come to (cue the sad music). My boyfriend at the time agreed to come be my cheerleader for this race. He lived in North Carolina, so we met in Lynchburg. In addition to being the first half marathon that I traveled to alone, this was also the first hotel room I had ever rented on my own… and probably the last that anyone will ever let me rent on my own. He got to the hotel first and called me in horror, “Amy, what the hell were you thinking?” I didn’t see the problem… it was just for one night. While checking into the hotel, the lady at the front desk asked us if we would be using the fridge or T.V. I must not have been hiding my confusing because then she explained how “they cost extra”. I didn’t even know hotels could charge you extra to use the fridge. Anyways, not the best hotel I’ve stayed at during this adventure, but it probably won’t be the worst either.

One of the absolute best parts of each and every trip: dinner. Where? OLIVE GARDEN. As you can probably tell, I love Olive Garden. Nothing says pre-race meal  like free breadsticks and a big ass bowl of pasta. Not to mention the bottomless salad. Our waiter introduced himself as “Batman.” No, I am not kidding. We ate 3 baskets of breadsticks, 2 bowls of salad, and I got spaghetti and meatballs. I’d say I was efficiently carbed up and ready to run the next day.

That next morning, I woke up, had some caffeine, put on my race bib, and walked outside to see how it felt. It was HOT. I’m talking the kind of hot where everything feels disgustingly sticky and damp, where your hair sticks to your neck, the kind of hot where you can barely make any movements without sweat dripping down your back. PERFECT (yes, that is sarcasm).

So, it was hot. 98 degrees to be exact. On top of that, add 95% humidity as the cherry on top. But, like usual, my “it’s fine” mentality pretended that everything would go exactly as planned, I’d run my usual time with ease, finish another state, and smash some pizza afterwards. WRONG.

I was cruising along, got past mile one, got past mile two, and then my headphones started to slip out of my ears. I put them back in, they fell back out, back in, back out, in, out, in, out… WHAT THE HELL. Yes, you’re probably reading this and thinking, “well…. what did you expect when it’s 95% humidity and you’re sweating like a pig?” Moral of this disaster: BUY HEADPHONES WITH EAR HOOKS IF YOU ARE COMMITTED TO RUNNING IN ANY TEMPERATURE WHICH MAY INDUCE MASS SWEATING. For real though, I had to finish the race by listening to music out loud (sorry everyone).

The other major memory from this race: the elevation (which I did not mentally prepare for whatsoever). The race was flat for the first 3-4 miles, perfectly paved path with a few twists and turns, beautiful bridges….and then it happened. A massive, wrap-around, mountain of a hill. I’m talking the kind of hill that goes on so long that it wraps around and around and around, and you can’t see the top until you’ve finally reached it. When I got to the top, everyone around me had started walking. I tried to keep going, tried to keep my momentum… but I had to slow down. I didn’t stop, not quite yet at least, but I slowed down considerably. I ran miles 5-9 SLLLOWWWWWW. I’m talkin like fake-jogging at some points, the kind of jog where you’d be better off walking because you’re going to damn slow. But I FINISHED. It might not have been pretty, but it was #6.

TAKE AWAYS:

  • BUY HEADPHONES WITH EAR HOOKS
  • HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE
  • Maybe a massive pasta, bread, dessert type of dinner isn’t the best pre-race meal????