Chick Chat: First Race Ever

We didn’t choose the running life, the running life chose us!

Actually, that’s not true. I think that anyone can tell you that it’s a decision, and sometimes a struggle to get out there day after day, year after year and run.

It’s a love/hate relationship. There are times when it’s awesome and there’s other times when it sucks and we dread every minute of it. But being that it’s Valentine’s Day, we are going to focus on love and share our very first race experiences with you.


When I started training with C25K (Couch to 5K) in the summer of 2013 I’d signed up for a The Color Run with some friends. There were three of us that would be running our first race together so we kept up with each other on Facebook and through texts to see how our progress was going. Before we got to the race in which we would get colored cornstarch thrown all over us, we found a different race.

The local fire department supports a charity each year and does a Pink Heals 5K, so we figured we’d go for it. We’d all done the training and we were ready. Right?

Well, yeah. Right.

This bridge! I’ve been back to it at least four times with different races. Still gets me.

The race was in October so the weather was, well, I live in Florida so it was warm and muggy. I was feeling pretty confident, especially being surrounded by all of my friends. There was no pressure, really. It was the first time for a lot of us and we thought of it as a “practice run” (get it?) for our upcoming race. The course was simple: down the street, over the bridge, and back. Only…I didn’t train for bridges! I remember feeling so defeated because I ended up walking some of the bridge and hating that it was happening.

When all was said and done, though, I felt such a great sense of accomplishment. I was also sore and having my first experience of being rungry. It’s a thing, okay? Looking back, I am so glad I had those friends to train and run with. Having support for a sport that is about mind over matter, truly matter.

My training buddies! I could not (and still don’t) do it without them!

I have a really hard time coming up with my first race. I honestly can’t remember what the very first running race I ever did was… I would have been very little, probably running alongside my mom, in some local 5k in Anchorage. That was just my childhood – running with mom, doing triathlons, cross country skiing, playing basketball.

Having said all of that, as a kid I also didn’t like running. Like, at all. It made me tired, there wasn’t a whole lot of “fun” in it, I wasn’t scoring points… yeah. It was lame. My mom dragged me out there and I complained the whole time (until I could horse-to-the-barn back to the car when we were almost done).

I ran as training for basketball in college – still hated it. I ran after basketball (still in college) to kind of stay in shape – it just made me feel really OUT of shape.

I graduated college, realized that I missed being fit and strong and decided that running was an easy way to find those things again. So I started on the treadmill in my friends’ basement, ran at the gym, cleaned up my diet, ran outside, and finally decided to sign up for a race.

In 2012, I’d just moved back in with my parents and was making the most of the comfortable Alaskan running weather and knew that the Run for Women – a five-miler – was right around the corner. I hadn’t run a race in a long time and really felt as though I could run this one and feel good about it.

And I DID feel good about it! I had signed up alone, but about a half mile into the race found a friend of my mom’s and ran with her for a bit. After a while, we split up, but I felt comfortable and confident and by the time I crossed the finish line I’d not only enjoyed myself, but I done so much better than I thought I would. After I got home that morning, I told my mom I wanted to run a half marathon… and that was that.


It was 2013 and the Color Run was all the rage, so when some friends asked me if I wanted to join their team, Team Scrambled Legs, for the Denver Color Run, I was IN! I trained using Couch to 5k, too, and my team mates were much faster than me. I remember finding them before the start was the most stressful part of the race.

Not only was it the best team name ever, but it was a great intro to road racing. I was slow as usual, but it didn’t matter. I think my time was around 42 minutes. I was hoping to be closer to 35 minutes but meh. I had fun, got dirty, and gave a little girl my gumball necklace. It was a crowded race, and aside from the BOLDER Boulder and Run Disney events, I tend to stay away from big race crowds.

Running through Denver City Park is always enjoyable, the  park is gorgeous and the weather that day was warm. My husband, saint that he is, got up with me and made the 45 minute drive to the race start. That day, he became my personal race photographer.

I think I might be the only person in that photo who still runs. When I ran that race, I never dreamed I’d run a half marathon. Five years later I’m planning to finish my 10th half this year, and embark on lots of trail adventures. Looking back, it’s great to see how far I, and my running goals, have come!

My very first race was a 5k. But not just any ol’ 5k. It was the Down and Dirty Obstacle Race in Philadelphia.

The year was 2011 and while I’d been working out for a few years before that with Stroller Strides, 2011 is the year I started running. I’d begun training on my treadmill during the spring and by the summer event, I thought that I’d be absolutely FINE.

I was absolutely wrong.

Why am I smiling? I don’t know.

The hilly, rough terrain running was honestly the least of my problems. You guys, the obstacles… the first one was a low wall which I not-so-gracefully threw myself over and landed on my knees.

However, I had Cam with me for this race so while I might have been ill-prepared for the obstacles, I had a really good time! Well, not a good time, but we entertained each other and made sure we both survived.

My husband was a spectator, so he snagged a few pictures of obstacles that I was actually able to conquer and not hurt myself on.

Up and over!

This felt a lot more steep than it looks here.

It was a tough, tough race but I had the determination to finish and then sign up for another race, the Rothman 8k, about 4 months later.

After the Down and Dirty, on my old tumblr, I wrote:

Something I learned this weekend is that it’s always important to challenge yourself because you hold yourself to a higher level of achievement each time. Things get easier every time you do them and that’s when you have to kick it up to the next step.

Also? I’m pretty freaking bad ass.

We love you! Tell us about YOUR first race ever? Was it love at first run or did it take some time to settle into the relationship?

Scoot a Doot’s 5th Blogaversary (with a BOCO Gear giveaway!)

Exciting news in the video! We have a new Scoot a Doot Chick joining Kyle, Jenn, and myself, a new giveaway, and a new cast! Well, okay, that last one might only be exciting to me – but it is purple!

Watch me ramble and then click down below for the giveaway.

 

Click the pic to enter – now through 2/5 at 12am est

You can meet Ash here! Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and subscribe (right over in the side bar!) so you can get blog post updates sent directly to your email!

ETA: I am such a dolt. ASHLEY IS A RAVENCLAW, not a Hufflepuff. I have no good excuse. At least I know I’m a Gryffindor?

Guest Post: My First Marathon – Space Coast Marathon

About this time last year I got a text from my friend and running buddy that said “I think I’m going run a marathon”. My response was probably something like “Nah” to which she graciously told me I didn’t have to run it, but it was something that she wanted to do. I was fully prepared to cheer her on and be a supportive friend. I’m good at that.

In all honesty, thinking about running a marathon is pretty exciting and scary. I did think a lot about it before it was time for sign ups. Then, in February of this year, my stepfather unexpectedly passed away. He was the type of man who was always supportive of me, no matter what I did: running, school, career-wise…everything. So, I wanted to do a thing that he would be proud of.

We both signed up, had our initial adrenaline rushes and, well…then we forgot about it, to be honest. Being teachers, we do end up with some free time over the summer to plan and train. Of course, it doesn’t always work that way, does it? We would exchange texts telling each other to get into gear but it didn’t always work out. Once school started in August training became a distant thought.

Then it was October.

At first we debated whether we should even go or not. We thought about taking “The Wormhole” out and completing the half marathon instead. A couple of times we ran together after school and tried to stay accountable with our own long runs over the weekend. Eventually we just kind of decided we were going for it, training or not.

A few days before the race I was talking to my co-worker, Ali, who ran Space Coast and she mentioned that the volunteers dressed up as space-inspired groups, so I hopped on Amazon and bought a Star Trek pin, searched the stores for a yellow shirt, and put together a simple-but-nerdy outfit.

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We left for Cocoa Beach Saturday morning to make it to the expo and packet pickup. Most of our conversations were jokes about dying and hoping we didn’t injure ourselves because, you know, our training was limited.

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The expo was crazy busy, so we only really stayed long enough to pick up our packets and a couple of little things. (Snacks and headbands, of course.) After a dinner of beer and pizza (yes, really) we tucked ourselves in at 7PM.

By 3:30AM I was wide awake and kind of ready to get the show on the road. We got up, got ready, and with the help of Michelle’s husband and son made it to the start point… after a quick stop for coffee. We spent about forty-five minutes before the race started getting things prepped. I finished my bagel and peanut butter, tried to drink some coffee to wake me up, and took a couple of trips to the bathroom.

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By 6:20AM we were lined up at the starting point, listening for announcements and trying not to freak out. Michelle and I have run a lot of races together. All of our “first” races have been together, so this one was pretty big for us. Three years ago this time we were running our first 5K together. We’ve come a long way.

After the pledge and a short countdown video we were off! Since we hadn’t properly trained Michelle and I decided to focus on 2:1 intervals. There were a few Galloway pace groups in the race but we didn’t want to commit to a group that we might not have been able to keep up with. The intervals started out fairly well and we were both feeling pretty good at the start of the race. It helped that the Space Coast Marathon’s course is absolutely beautiful!

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Beautiful scenery!

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At mile six!

As we came into mile thirteen Michelle’s husband and son met us at the halfway point. They complimented us and said we were looking strong, then gave us snacks. They’re okay in my book! Truthfully, by the halfway point I was starving! I had a salted caramel GU at about mile eight, but was super glad I picked up some Stinger waffles at the expo. They really helped!

We passed “The Wormhole” as we came around mile thirteen and joked about taking, but we knew we were in it for the long haul. The course continued to stay beautiful and we got to see some of the half marathoners coming in on their way to the finish. Okay, there were also some marathoners getting ready to finish also. Michelle and I thoroughly believe in “slow and steady”.

At each mile marker after thirteen I said something like “this is the longest we’ve been” because it was true and it felt great! My body was protesting a little, but my mind was fully in the game. I was counting the miles and calculating the time as we ran on, but I didn’t get discouraged about anything. I was feeling good, not too sore, and was staying hydrated with the help of some great volunteers.

By mile twenty I was kind of starting to feel it, however. We had kept up our intervals and were doing great. Neither one of us had a real issue with taking a few extra minutes of walking every mile or so, just to take a breather. I could tell that we were both feeling it as we rounded to come back after mile twenty. Usually we can keep a conversation going, but it was getting tough!

As we headed toward the homestretch the wind picked up and kept us cool for the last six miles. The volunteers were still out, cheering us on and giving us snacks (M&Ms!) and water. Since the course was through a neighborhood a few of the residents were out in their yards also. Some had posted signs and left them there but a few were actually giving out candy, snacks, and, in one instance, shots and beer. It was tempting, but I don’t think drinking at mile twenty-two would have been in my best interest.

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I did find the greatest sign for my Captain Kirk inspired shirt at about mile twenty-four and we stopped moving long enough to snap a picture of it:

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Run long and prosper.

As we came into our last mile Michelle’s family joined us again and stayed with us until the end. Around us there were other people coming to walk or run in the last little bit with their friends or family. It was all very moving and a great reminder of how awesome the running community is. I know that it would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t had Mer cheering me on and other friends sending me their well-wishes.

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Rounding the last quarter mile was such a great feeling! Knowing that you’d made it nearly 26.2 miles is kind of mind blowing. When I started running three and a half years ago I never envisioned myself running a marathon. As we ran by people and heard them say “Way to go, marathoners!”, it just kind of hits you in the feels.

Crossing the finish line I felt equal parts of relief and exhilaration. I was hungry and tired, but also kind of hyped up because, you know, I just ran a marathon. After we grabbed out bags, changed our shoes, and loaded up with pancakes and eggs, I sat down and replied to a bunch of texts. To my best friends “Are you alive?” and my mother’s “Are you done yet?”. There were all kinds of notifications from friends online and the outpouring of support from everyone was amazing.

It was just as tough as we knew it was going to be, but still so very rewarding. It’s more than a medal and shirt, though those things are nice. It’s the fact that your body can do amazing things. That you can do amazing things! And that there are always people who you can inspire and who can inspire you.

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Now, I don’t know if another marathon is in my future…but I’m not counting it out just yet.

Happy running!

You can find me on Instagram and Twitter with @thisgirlash_ if you like to talk about books, cats, and running (sometimes). I also blog at Ash Does Stuff.

How To Cheer a Friend at Her First Marathon (991 Miles Away)

First step: Realize that your friend is running her first FULL MARATHON when she posts pictures of herself with an astronaut buddy on Instagram.

Immediately text her and demand to know all the details, including how to track her. Confirm she’s running for funsies and that it’s okay to send her texts throughout her race (yes and yes).

This was the picture that tipped me off. I don’t know where I’ve been but as soon as I realized Holy schnikes, she’s doing a the FULL marathon I was texting that adorable little hand holder.

Second step: Wake up at 6:30am on a Sunday morning. Stalk the Twitter feed to get all aflutter when you realize that they started the race at exactly 6:32.

Third step: Decide that not only are you going to send TEXTS but you’re going to make motivational signs and text/tweet/Facebook her at appropriate times. Why? Because when you do something, you like to do it BIG.

Lay in bed and create them on phone (thanks to A Beautiful Mess and Word Dream apps) while your husband asks, “What in the world are you doing over there?”

Fourth step: Proceed to drain her battery with cheering! #sorrynotsorry

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If you need help thinking of fun marathon signs, just search Google Images. I started there because it was early and my mind wasn’t fully engaged. As the day went on, I got more creative.

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I’m sure they really appreciated that “only” modifier in there!

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Yeah, they both have to work.

Yeah, they both have to work.

Got a text from Ash saying she was around mile 25, so I sent this one.

Got a text from Ash saying she was around mile 25, so I whipped up this one lickety split. The beauty of cheering via the internet!

And finally, the tweet I was waiting for… they FINISHED the Space Coast Marathon.

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I am so happy for Ashley and Michelle and their awesome accomplishment! Sure, I wasn’t there handing them shots or beers (um, and I hear that happens on this course) but it almost felt like I was right there along with them.

Ash has promised a play-by-play guest post for Scoot a Doot, so be sure to look for that… and if you see Ash and Michelle around the internet, make sure to congratulate the marathoners!

Who else was at Space Coast? I hear it is a heck of a lot of F-U-N!

Guest Post: Hooters Half Marathon

Delightfully tacky, yet unrefined.

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That’s what Hooters says about itself. I say they have delicious wings, curly fries, and good beer. Also, they know how to throw a pretty sweet half marathon.

This past Sunday I laced up my sneaks and headed out for my second half marathon ever. Well, the first one was only in January so it wasn’t like I took a long break or anything. In fact, the Hooters Half almost didn’t even happen for me. I floundered back and forth about signing up until I finally just bit the bullet and went for it.

After I signed up I was feeling pretty stoked. I ran the Disney Half Marathon in January (and met Mer and Brooke, YAAAAAY) and had an amazing time with my running buddy. We kept a good pace and finished at just over three hours, which I couldn’t tell you if that’s a good time or not, I just know I made it.

I figured for my second half I should set some goals, right? Okay, after my running buddy texted me and asked if I had any goals I decided to set them. Basically my goal was to beat three hours. I figured that was a doable goal considering it was only my second time running this distance.

The week leading up to the race wasn’t anything special. I wasn’t nervous like I was before Disney. I had this, right? I prepped the Saturday before by carb loading. By that I mean I ate a lot of Boom Chicka Pop and pretty much an entire box of macaroni and cheese for dinner. (Note: this is probably not a post you should take advice from, just saying.) I watched some videos on how to apply KT tape for some pain I’d been having, then I made my sister help me. She’s a personal trainer, so she’s good for stuff like that. I also planned my outfit, because you can be cute and comfortable to run thirteen miles at the same time. Also, I’m single and you never know who you might “run” into.

You can't go wrong with Mean Girls.

You can’t go wrong with Mean Girls.

I went to bed at a decent hour, my alarm set at my normal-everyday-wake up time. For Disney my wake up time was 2:30AM. Thankfully, I only live about two miles from Hooters, so I didn’t have to get up that early. I was feeling pretty good the night before, but my nerves got the best of me Sunday morning. It probably had to do with the dream I had about my grandma beating me at the race. I blame the carbs.

Breakfast was a small event: coffee (because I do nothing without coffee), oatmeal, and a banana. I don’t eat a lot in the morning, but I know it’s important to fuel up before a long run. My nerves were still going crazy by the time I met my friends in the crowded parking lot. This year’s race had about 1,100 people sign up and, as per the results, 800 finishers. We made a pit-stop at the Port-o-Johns because there’s nothing worse than having to run long distances while having to pee. Side note: I ran a ten-miler in October with no bathrooms on the course. Uncool. Anyway, after a bathroom stop we headed to the start line, just as that beautiful Florida sun started to rise. Oh, and ran into these beauties.

Helloooooo, beer!

Helloooooo, beer!

My running buddy and I placed ourselves at the back of the pack, just to be safe. We both had goals and were prepared to help each other out with them, but we wanted to be comfortable with our starting pace and there’s really no pressure in the back.

Let's do this.

Let’s do this.

We got started just after 7AM with a pretty steady pace. Like I said, I wasn’t out to impress anyone but myself, but I was feeling pretty good at a twelve-minute mile. I know I don’t have a lot of speed, but what I lack I make up for in enthusiasm. By mile two I had to go to the bathroom, so we got water and I went. Water and bathrooms were both available every two miles, which was pretty awesome. The weather on this race (compared to 40s in Disney) was a little rough. It was in the 70s and muggy, typical Southwest Florida, but more difficult when running thirteen miles.

The course we were set on was nice, especially with the weather like it was. We had a great view of some nice neighborhoods on the river. The streets were flat, shady, and provided a nice breeze to counter the humidity. One of the things that I liked that most about running through the neighborhoods was the fact that people were hanging out in the streets cheering for us. Sometimes it was whole families, sometimes just a single old woman sipping her coffee (which I would have killed for), and once there was an innocent looking little girl with a sign that said: “Run fast. I just farted.” I’m still kicking myself for not taking a picture of that one.

I started feeling some pain in my taped leg at about mile five, but I pushed through. Pain is temporary, you know. The first seven miles were like a cake walk compared to what came at mile eight. I’ve ran the Edison Bridge three times and the Hooters Half makes four. It never gets easier. In fact, this was pretty much my downfall.

Actually the worst.

Actually the worst.

I had a GU at mile nine (Salted Caramel – yum) and some Gatorade because they were out of water at the station, and we kept on trucking. By mile ten my earphones died and I was left in silence.

Worst.

Thing.

Ever.

I’d like to blame the rest of the run on the fact that my headphones died and I had nothing to listen to so I couldn’t keep a pace or DO ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE. But, it’s probably more of the fact that I was starting to feel dehydrated and the pain I’d started feeling around mile five started to intensify. I told my running buddy to go on without me. I’m pretty sure my exact words were “Just leave me here to die!” so she did. She pushed me through those first ten miles and I was so, so grateful, but I knew she had a goal and I wanted her to reach it. I felt pretty good about still having her in my sight, like we were still going together, but eventually she turned a corner and I was on my own.

Of course, running is pretty much a solo sport, so it wasn’t too terrible. I tried to focus on the fact that I’d made it TEN MILES when this time last year I only had a few 5K under my belt. I ran-walked the last three miles, keeping up with intervals with a couple that was in front of me. (They were super cute and ran across the finish line with their kids.) At some point an elderly gentleman came up behind me and said something like “I’ve been following you for six miles, you can’t quit now!”

Game on, old man!

After that I pulled my phone out and just listened to my music on speaker. My pace was still under fourteen minutes and I was looking good to finish under three hours. By the time I came around the back of the mall and toward the finish line I could have cried. People (volunteers and spectators alike) were still waiting and cheering, which is a great feeling. My friends met me just a few yards from the finish and ran the rest of the way with me, because they’re awesome and the best people I could ever imagine running with.

Cute owl bling!

Cute owl bling!

Of course, being the Hooters Half, there was free beer and wings at the finish line. As much as I wanted to take part in those delicious things I settled on water and grapes. I was feeling pretty dehydrated and in serious need of a nap, so I passed on the yummies, which was a little sad. I mean, how do you run the Hooters Half and not eat the wings and drink the beer?

It’s okay, there’s always next time. I really enjoyed this race, even the last three miles that completely sucked. It wasn’t a big crowd and the course was nice, plus it’s pretty close to my house so the travel time is minimal.

And hey, a Hooters girl give you a medal. If you’re into that sort of thing.

Also, according to my Nike+ app my finish time was 2:57:47. So, I managed a PR on my second half marathon, beating my old (first and only) time by ten minutes! Now I’ve got two half-marathons under my belt, but I’m ready to focus on some shorter distances. I prefer 10Ks and have a few lined up for the year already. But, of course, it’s all about the swag.

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You can find me on Instagram and Twitter with @thisgirlash_ if you like to talk about books, cats, and running (sometimes). I also blog at Ash Does Stuff.