I had so much fun yesterday, I’m not sure I can put it properly into words. So I stitched together a ton of fun photos from the day and I’m going to attempt to record what I think I did that made it all work out so well.
So first things first – I am a runner at heart. Tried and true. I started running originally when I moved to San Diego simply to make friends (I’m also a social diva and love meeting people). So I met a great group of ladies and started to train for a marathon, why not? I didn’t really care about time; I just liked spending time on the road with my girlfriends. I ran my first marathon in 4:45, which I was thrilled about. I ran another 4-5 26.2ers at similar paces…all in the 4:30’s. Then in 2009 when I launched SkinnyTini, I dropped 20 lbs and got super fast (for me). It was like running in somebody else’s body. Since then, I like to beat myself, and sometimes, it’s fun to beat other people too 😉 Beating your prior times is always a good feeling.
I raced Carlsbad half last year, and it was the race where my stress fracture fully made itself evident. Ouch! That knocked me off my feet and locked me up in a boot for 16 weeks. F@#$%K! Then in June, I started from scratch. So running the Carlsbad Half again this year was a really big deal for me in more ways than one. And the end result really couldn’t have been more satisfying.
So with 13 years of experience on the road, probably 10K training miles, 9 marathons and 23 half marathons ranging from 7:25 pace to 11:00 minute per mile, I’d like to say I know a little bit about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to distance running 😉 I’ve run them all, fast and slow, pain free and painful, pretty and ugly. I’ve crossed the finish line with tears from joy and satisfaction and also from spite and frustration. So when I think about the great success I felt yesterday, I think it boils down to these tips. You might have to be a runner to appreciate any of this…but if you are, heed my advice and see if any of this may apply to you:
Things I did that may have made Carlsbad Half Marathon my best race:
- I had a steak on Wednesday. Yup. A petit fillet at Ruth’s Chris. I hardly EVER eat red meat. But I thought why not pump my blood full of iron, and literally beef up my hemoglobin? More oxygen to the muscles on race day never hurt anyone. Luckily, it went down well.
- Saturday I had a giant salad for lunch with a veggie patty, which I considered to be pretty high protein around 1pm. Then at about 6:30 I had these amazing butternut squash tacos with black beans and rice. I figured this to be a great combo of protein and complex carbohydrate and I gave my body well over 12 hours to process it all. I like plant based protein and in this case, it worked out well.
- Race morning I historically have ALWAYS had a PowerBar. But getting away from as much processed food as I can I opted for ½ cup of oatmeal, ¼ cup berries and 1/3 of a banana. For under 150 calories, I was full, but not too full. And I had that a good 90 min before the race started.
- During the race I had 2 Vanilla PowerGels. One around mile 5 and the other between 8-9 somewhere. These I’ve also had since day 1 and am fearful of every trying anything different.
- I read a study once that said supported caffeine as an ergogenic aid. Like 2-3%. But that to get the best lift, you needed to be a caffeine abstainer. I’m not. So to mimic the affects, those like me must cut it out for at least 7 days. Ouch. I did it for 20 days. I missed my coffee, but it makes race day that much more fun to wake up to your long lost, comforting friend – COFFEE J
- I’m an avid exercise. The annoying kind that hates taking a day off — especially since I am trying to knock off a few pounds. It’s so hard to taper and take rest days. But as a performance athlete, who’s really trying to get stronger, it’s essential. Not just for increased performance, but also for injury prevention. Which I learned the hard way. So I only ran 2 easy days and did a spin and some yoga classes the week before the race.
- Sleep. I also read it’s not so much about the sleep you get the night before a race as the sleep you get 2 nights before the race and the amount of energy you really expend the day before the race. So Friday night is key along with Saturday morning—shut the blinds, turn off the phone, pre-feed the cats—because this girl is sleeping IN! Logging 9-10 hours of sleep 2 nights before makes up for the jittery, useless pre-race anxiety sleep you get Saturday night.
- The holidays were rough of me! I had 9 weeks of back to back travel through November and December and little time to be at home on any form of a structured routine. Plus, it was the holidays and I like my booze. So I drank, and ate, and drank and ate and had a heck of a good time doing it. That landed me on 12/31/12 at my highest weight since 2008 and I was not happy.
- So I shed 5 lbs in 27 days through a 3 day juice cleanse followed by a 10 day animal product and gluten cleanse all spanning a 27 day alcohol detox. Yes, I did it. The SkinnyTini party girl had not-a-one boozy cocktail until lunch after my race. 5 lbs is like 20 pounds of pressure on the pavement, so I needed the weight gone. I have 4 more to go…
- You can’t (in my opinion) drink too much water the day before a race. But I do slow down the morning of the race because I don’t really want to stop on the course.
- I also have a rule where I walk EVERY aid station. I had that in my head from my early days of running. Never to pass up water and to stop and walk to get it down cramp free. I do still believe this is good advice, especially for newer runners. This was my first race where I hit only about 75% of the water stations and I ran through them all with a very clever consumption technique that I decided on at aid station #1 and remained cramp free. So I may stick with this.
New iPod Play list
- MUSIC is such a big deal for me. I haven’t updated my iPods in…I don’t even know how long. So Saturday night, as a part of our early to rest routine, I cut down a shorter mix of only the best of the best. I added a few new ones…here are some favs:
- Titanium (David Guetta and Sia)
- One More Night (Maroon 5) – this one got me across the finish line
- The Edge of Glory (Lady GaGa)
- I have an existing apparel racing trick: the half sports bra. I call it running naked, which is ridiculous, because I’m clearly not naked. But exposing your midriff is a big deal. And when I know it’s all out there, I make an effort to hold it together. And when I look down at it, and see anything shaking, I run faster because it grosses me out.
- This was my first race with the arm warmers. I actually bought them at the expo to protect my arms for Tough Mudder in 2 weeks. Then I put them on race day as a joke, because the half shirt with the arm warmers was like an oxymoron. But I thought it looked cool, so I went with it. And it was 56 at the start, so it’s possible they did make the half shirt gig more comfortable. But most importantly, I ran fast, so I might stick with it just because J
Whether it was the caffeine, the rest, the food/fuel, weight loss, alcohol detox, the music, the stellar apparel, I don’t know. But I ended up beating last year’s time by almost a minute, placed in the top 3.8% overall, 1.7% of women and 17th in my division with a 1:37:06 (7:25 pace). Then hit a bar where so many of my great friends came to celebrate and I had my first truly celebratory cocktail of 2013.
#gratitude is my theme for 2013, and so far, we’re off to a great start.