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So You’re Going to Run a Half Marathon Part 3 – Acquiring the Gear

I’m really excited about this week’s post because it has to do with shopping for your running gear.  Keep in mind, I am a bargain shopper and love it when I score a great deal so I’ll include some money saving tips too! 

Since I had never run before, I needed EVERYTHING.  And I mean everything…Shoes, socks, clothes, music, apps, bras, a hat, sunglasses, a fanny pack (are they still called fanny packs, or is that totally ‘80’s?), a watch, and so on.  I started with nothing and by the time I ran my first half marathon, I had the perfect selection of gear that helped me cross the finish line.

Here are the prized possessions I purchased during my half marathon training journey:

  • SHOES – First things first…You need real running shoes.  The step aerobic shoes that are in your closet will not do.  When I bought my first pair of running shoes, I did everything I should not have done.   I went to a big sports outlet type store and picked out a pair of running shoes because they were deeply discounted ($69) and they seemed to feel good.   I didn’t ask for help, didn’t research the shoes, I just bought them and ran a half marathon in them.  Thankfully, it all worked out, but if I had to do it all over again (which I did after the half), I would go to a running store and have the pros assess my situation.   After the half, I rewarded myself with  new pair of running shoes.  This time I did it the right way…I went to a local running store and had the sales rep analyze my feet, my running and what shoe would work best for me.  I ended up paying more money on my second pair of shoes ($110) but it was money well spent.   The pros informed me that I actually needed shoes that were one half size larger than what I had purchased on my own!  Good info to know!  Go with the pros on this purchase.  Here’s a great article from about.com on how to buy the right running shoes.
  • SPORTS BRAS (guys, you can skip this part) –  The sports bra is the other item I would not skimp on.  Keep the girls comfy, ladies.  Like I said, I love a great deal, but some things are worth the extra money.  The running bra that I found to be amazing and worked well for me was by Moving Comfort.  The style I picked was Fiona ($46).  I tried some cheaper brands that I found at T.J. Maxx but they did not do the job like the Moving Comfort bra did.  There were support issues, chafing issues, comfort issues, etc.  Many running stores will carry the Moving Comfort brand and the sales reps should be well educated on the various styles and what will work for you…don’t be afraid to pick their brains!
  • RUNNING SHORTS – OK, here’s where I did some bargain shopping.  I bought my shorts from the aforementioned T.J. Maxx because they have a crazy selection at decent prices.  You’ll need quite a few pairs of shorts so try out different styles to see what works for you.  There’s the underwear-built-into-the-short style, the underwear-not-built-into-the-short style, the lovely spandex short-short, mid-thigh length, capri length and full length.  Experiment during your training until you find what works great for you.  DO NOT (I repeat DO NOT) experiment the day of the half marathon.  On that day, stick with what you know works!!!  Trust me!
  • RUNNING SHIRTS – This is an item  you need to pay close attention to because there is a thing called ‘wicking’.  Moisture wicking material allows moisture to evaporate quickly.  When you run, you sweat (or you should anyway).  When you sweat, your shirt gets wet.  Wet is not good when running, it can cause chafing.  Chafing is bad and causes skin irritation.  Skin irritation is bad because it’s distracting and painful.  Moral of the story:  Buy moisture wicking shirts (and shorts and socks for that matter).  The shirt I found that I LOVE and wore during the half marathon was the Icebreaker GT 150 Ultralite which is made from Merino wool.  It’s a soft, comfortable material that keeps you cool when it’s warm and keeps you warm when it’s cool.  It’s the best!  I bought it from Title Nine but waited for it to go on sale because full price ($78 dollars or so) was out of my price range.  At the end of summer when it was 50% off, I bought two…SCORE!
  • RUNNING SOCKS –  Seems weird but not all socks are created equal.  Buy some socks that are made for runners.  That would be a lovely moisture wicking sock.  I bought an expensive pair of running socks that I ended up hating and then I bought a 12 pack of running socks from Costco that I ended up loving.  So, more expensive is not always the best bet when it comes to socks.  Again, try out different socks and stick with what works for you.  Just don’t go with 100% cotton – there’s no moisture wicking going on with cotton and you don’t want to run with wet socks…yuck.
  • HAT – Buy a hat for running.  Personally, I like to wear a hat to protect my face from the sun.  I grew up on the beaches of California and have had some skin cancer to prove it.  So, I now wear a hat all summer long when outdoors.  I know I sound like a broken record but you don’t want to wear your non-running cap because you will…say it with me…SWEAT.  A specially made running cap/hat (with lots of tiny holes in the cap) will allow your head to breathe.  You want your head to breathe, trust me.
  • OTHER STUFF – Have a pair of light-weight sunglasses that won’t slip down your nose when you SWEAT.  Make sure you have a running belt to hold your water and other essentials like snacks, tissue, chapstick and car key.  My absolute favorite is the iFitness brand which is made of neoprene so there is no slipping around with this bad boy.  I added 2 water bottle holders and I also bought the holder for my iPhone and I was ready to freakin’ rock and roll on half marathon day.   I needed a watch to time myself.  I did Jeff Galloway’s run-walk-run method so I wanted to keep track of my time.   Music is very important to me while I run so I searched my CD collection for some great running songs and also downloaded some songs that I would normally not download (Michael Jackson, Eminem, Kelly Clarkson, FloRida to name a few).  Running is a great way to expand your music collection!

(photos from iFitnessinc.com)

BlackBlack iPhone/iPod Window Armband

My best advice when acquiring your gear is to try out different things during your training and when you find something that works, STICK WITH IT  and use/wear it during your half marathon.  Do NOT try something new on your race day.  Only go with what you know!  Don’t buy a super cute, never worn before outfit because you want to look adorable crossing the finish line.  Wear what has proven to work during your training…ESPECIALLY your long runs!

Next post will be about the mental stuff.  This will be deep folks!

No Going = More Sewing

 

A couple of blogs ago I wrote about some of my post half marathon bonehead moments, one of which included a nice fall that sent my body straight down to the wet pavement, taking my pride with it.  Since I’m a hard-core half marathoner now Winking smile , I decided not to take any chances and went to the doctor’s office the next morning. After a few x-rays I found out that I sprained my ankle and was given this awesome black, velcro-y contraption that looked like a foot corset.  I asked the doctor if it was available in brown leather and she just looked at me like I was some kind of weirdo.

So, for the last couple of weeks there’s been no going for me.  No running.  No running on the treadmill.  No running in the rain (like I’d do that anyway).  No running in my new, pretty, purple running shoes.  I’m a little bummed about this whole thing but the good news is, with running off the radar for a bit, I can focus on a new sewing project.

I haven’t finished a sewing project in forever (except for my no-sew dog coat for my whippet puppy, Finn…which he has since out-grown).  My unfinished projects are semi-neatly folded and placed in my sewing basket which is more like a place where sewing projects go to die.  Some of the projects I could write an obituary for include:  A would-be super cute skirt, a killer wide brimmed summer hat, a t-shirt quilt for my son, an antique handkerchief quilt, a baby quilt for a kid who is probably 5 years old by now, a lunch bag, a purse…make that 2 purses, an antique quilt repair and some Christmas stockings that were intended to be Christmas gifts in 2010.

dead sewing projects

My friend Janice had a recent birthday so I decided to make her an adorable tote using some killer fabric:

simple sewing 

Since I had time, fabric, a sewing machine, a fun sewing book (Simple Sewing by Lotta Jansdotter) and crappy weather there was no excuse for not finishing this project!  I spent last weekend cutting the fabric and this weekend sewing it.  Well, sewing and unsewing.  Sewing and unsewing.  Whoever came up with the seam ripper tool is my hero.  After a few failures…

trouble sewing

I successfully completed the tote bag…

finished tote 

Who knows, maybe I’m on a roll and will be able to finish some of my other projects?!  Nah.  I am very proud that I finished this particular project and have a gift to give to my dear friend Janice, but I sure am looking forward to running again!

To runners out there who are taking a running break, what are you doing with your spare time?

Post Half Marathon Bonehead Moments

Since completing my first half marathon last week, it seems that some brain cells were damaged in the process.  Usually I would blame my “bonehead moments” on my puppy but this time I will blame it on all the extra brain activity that took place during the half marathon.  Sure, running may not seem like it requires a whole lot of thinking but believe me, a whole lot of thinking actually takes place.  It requires so much focus, in fact, that it reduces your post-race focus capacity.  I’m not sure how long this will last but I’m hoping it’s short lived.  Take a look at the bonehead moments I’ve had since finishing the half marathon (most recent bonehead moment just a couple of hours ago):

1.  FAILED TO USE CAUTION WHEN PUTTING ARM WARMERS ON.    I bought some new Brooks arm warmers which are great for running in the chilly fall temperatures.  However, when I put them on, I had to tug on the top of the arm warmer to get it high enough up my arm.  As I was tugging with all my might, my fingers slipped and I hit myself in the mouth.  Ouch. When I was done swearing and wiping the blood from my lip, I tried again.  I hit myself again.  Damn it.  The next time I tried, I turned my head toward the opposite arm and was able to successfully put the oh so dangerous arm warmers on my arms.  My advice – when putting arm warmers on, don’t look down to see what your hand is doing.  Look the other way just in case your fingers slip.

2.  NEGLECTED TO OPEN GARAGE DOOR BEFORE BACKING CAR OUT.   Yeah, I said it.  Make sure your garage door is ALL the way open BEFORE backing your car out.  As I was backing out of the garage, I heard a terrible crashing sound.  My first thought was, “Dear Lord, please tell me that wasn’t one of those little dudes from the neighborhood.  I told them about that blind spot.”  I didn’t hear any screams so my second thought was that I ran into the trashcan.  Neither had happened.  When I got out of my car to assess the situation, I saw the garage door sitting on top of the roof of my car.  Crap.  That’s not good.  Luckily, I did not break the garage door and the roof of my car was scratched but intact.  Now that I think about it, I should have taken a picture…it would have been a nice visual for this imageless blog entry.

3. FORGETTING TO PAY ATTENTION TO MEAT PACKAGING.  You know how when you buy meat at the grocery store the butchers put it in those Styrofoam trays  then Saran Wrap the crap out of it?  Well, when you buy hamburger meat for, let’s say, chili, don’t just cut open the Saran Wrap and dump the contents of the meat in your pot and start cooking.  Did you know they put a little absorbent plastic-y pad under the meat so the blood doesn’t slosh around inside the package (gag)?  Yeah, that little sponge-like item does NOT go in your pot of chili.  It will not enhance the flavor!  I unknowingly threw that little sucker into the pot of chili but luckily, was able to retrieve it before the plastic melted.

4.  FORGETTING PIN (number) AT THE GROCERY STORE.  I’ve had my PIN for how long?  There are how many digits to commit to memory?  I use it how many times a week?  That’s supreme boneheadedness right there….forgetting my PIN in the checkout line at the grocery store.  So embarrassing.  I have never forgotten my PIN before.  Why now?

5.  FAILING TO WALK GRACEFULLY ON WET, SLIPPERY SURFACES.  So a couple of hours ago I took a nice leisurely spill on the wet steps while leaving work.  My boot heel slipped under my foot, my ankle rolled, I fell on the ground, I picked my sorry ass up off the ground (mainly because I knew I could be seen on the security camera), I hobbled back inside and called out for a little help.  It was pathetic and it was painful and it made me tear up a little.  I cried not only because it hurt but because I didn’t see myself running anytime real soon (and I just bought myself some new running shoes yesterday, too Sad smile).

There you have it…the potential dangers of thinking too hard when running a half marathon.  Take heed fellow runners.  While running, make sure you don’t use up all of your brain juice…leave some so you don’t experience post-race focus capacity issues.

Has anyone else experienced post-race focus capacity issues………or is it just me?!  Smile

Surviving My First Half Marathon

News flash…Slow Girl crosses finish line.  I did it!  I survived my first half marathon!  I’m so thrilled because earlier this year when I started running, I set what I thought was a lofty goal to finish a half marathon and I did it.  Yay me!

medalshirt2

(Note:  The race coordinators used 2011 bibs so the date is wrong…what’s up with that?)

I will spare you the minute by minute account of my day and instead provide some highlights about what I thought went well, what I could have done differently and some advice I received that was helpful.

THINGS I DID WELL

  • Set realistic goals.  My primary goal was to finish. My secondary goal was to finish under three (yes, as in three hours). My secret unrealistic goal was to finish in 2.5 hours. That was silly since I’ve never run at that pace in my life. Can’t a slow girl dream? I’m happy that I accomplished my first two goals (finish time was 2:49:28 – luckily I did not win any awards as I would have missed the awards ceremony).
  • I stuck to Jeff Galloway’s training schedule and the entire training was injury free. It was the slow and steady method of training which worked out well for this slow girl!
  • I walked up the hills like a rock star. This was a hilly course, which I didn’t quite realize when I signed up.  When I found out about the hill situation, my strategy was to walk up the hills since it sucks to run up them.  Then, at every opportunity, I would make up the lost time by running downhill, at the expense of my poor knees.  One hill, fondly known as “Doomsday Hill”  took me 10 minutes to walk up – this was at mile 9.5.  Running it was just not going to happen for me at that juncture in the race.
  • Crossed the finish line in an upright position.  No crawling involved. I made it through miles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (yes, I will be listing each mile for a dramatic effect), 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and of course the little pesky .1 mile at the end!

beforehalfmarathonafterhalfmarathon

THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY

  • Incorporate more hill training since after all, this was a hilly course.  The hills slowed me down but at least they didn’t stop me.
  • Drink slowly at the drink stations.  I took a swig of some refreshing water and it went down the wrong pipe so I had a choking fit…almost made me pee my pants which would have been SO not cool.
  • Relax and don’t let nerves get to me.   I found no pleasure whatsoever in dreaming about dirty toilets the night before the race which probably had something to do with the porta-potties that gross me out SO much I can not convey…my stomach is turning right now so let’s change the topic. Ick.  Think about rainbows and unicorns.
  • Don’t get light-headed.  I got light-headed around mile 10 but I don’t know why.  I drank water all along the course, I ate my energy snacks throughout the run and had a breakfast I was used to having before a long run (small bowl of oatmeal).   I haven’t figured out the problem so I don’t yet have a solution.  Maybe my brain was having a “what the hell are we doing” moment?!

HELPFUL ADVICE I RECEIVED (Not professional advice and not claiming to be professional advice)

  • Walk up to the water stations and walk while you drink, it’s gentler on your stomach and goes down easier.  Advice from: Leesa, my hair stylist and recent half marathon finisher.  Everyone has their own preference…run or walk, and  clearly I didn’t follow the walking advice because I choked on my water.
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch.  Advice from:  Andrea, younger sister and half marathon finisher.  Stretch before the race and stretch just as much after.  I did this and even threw in a couple of stretches at mile 10 and 11 when my hips were screaming…”Stop and stretch us or we will stop working for you!”  So I did and it felt good.
  • Just enjoy your first half marathon.  Advice from:  Everyone who ever finished a half marathon.   Well, that’s just dandy advice but honestly, I enjoyed it most when it started and when it ended.  Miles 1-8 flew by.  Miles 9-11 sucked and then I was so happy to see mile 12 and I made a little friend by mile 12.8 (see, I’m even slow at making friends).  It was her first half too and we were feeling the same…tired, sore, wondering how far away the finish line really was. It was nice having someone nearby who was in the same boat as me.  I didn’t catch her name but fondly refer to her as Girl in Pink #1 (she had a friend in pink too…that’s a whole other blog).  When the finish line finally came into view and I saw my husband, son and friends/fellow runners Patty and Jeff cheering me on, I was elated and completely forgot all about pesky miles 9, 10 and 11.  All in all it was a super great day!!!

running2

Good luck to all the future first time half marathoners out there.  You will do GREAT!

slowgirlfastdog2

7 things to never do while running on a treadmill

Before I share my profound safety tips, I will say that I have no special treadmill safety training nor do I claim to be an expert on the subject.  I am just a gal who likes getting on the treadmill and when I do, I seem to come up with some pretty thought provoking stuff.  You might read these tips and think, “Yeah genius, I knew that”, or you might think, “Damn, why didn’t I think of that??”  Either way, I hope a little piece of safety information stays with you on your next treadmill journey.

7 Things to NEVER do while running on a treadmill

  1. Do not eat baby carrots while running on a treadmill.  They are a known choking hazard and can kill you if they go down the wrong pipe.  I know we technically do not have “pipes” that go down our throats but that’s what we say after we’ve recovered from a choking incident, “It went down the wrong pipe.”  Sometimes we say, “It went down the wrong thing,” which makes “pipe” seem like a much more technical term.   Eat your baby carrots before or after the treadmill.  Do not eat them while running on the treadmill.
  2. Do not drink martinis while running on a treadmill.  Sure, you may get thirsty but if you try to drink a martini on the treadmill, it will spill because those glasses have REALLY wide rims and liquid splashes out quite easily.  And don’t even think about drinking it out of a sippy cup.  That’s just criminal.
  3. Do not try to moonwalk while running on a treadmill.  Today I was on the treadmill and Michael Jackson’s song, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’” came on and I SOOO wanted to break out in a moonwalk.  Couple problems:  One, I don’t know how to moonwalk and two, even if I did, I wouldn’t know which direction to do the moonwalk…toward the front of the treadmill or toward the back.  It’s complicated and possibly dangerous.
  4. Do not paint your nails while running on a treadmill.  Enough said.
  5. Do not invite your dog to join you while running on the treadmill.  I just don’t think it’s safe.  Is there really enough room for both of you?  What if your dog wants to go faster than you?  What if your cat, Fluffy, walks by?  If your dog really wants to go on the treadmill, you should take turns.  Humans and dogs sharing the treadmill is a disaster waiting to happen.
  6. Do not bend down to pick something up while running on a treadmill.   I’ve dropped my ear buds, my tissue, my safety clip, you name it.  I always forget that by the time I bend over to pick the item up, it has been flung off the back of the treadmill at warp speed.  Well, maybe not warp speed but at least 5.4 MPH.
  7. Do not listen to the wrong kind of music while running on a treadmill.  This is not really a ‘safety’ tip, just something I thought of and wanted to share.  Music can be a big motivator.  Whether it’s a catchy little ditty or a lyrical masterpiece, music can have a profound impact on a person’s run.  Here are a couple of songs that ended up on my running playlist and need to be removed ASAP:   Tired – by Adele, Harder to Breathe – by Maroon 5, Another One Bites the Dust – by Queen.  Bye bye songs.

I’m sure there are other things you should never do while running on a treadmill but these are the ones I could think of during my 30 minutes on the treadmill.  Maybe number eight should be, “Never try to think of things to never do while running on a treadmill.”

Happy, safe running!

QUICK WHIPPET PUPDATE:

Puppy Finn is still adorable

whippet finn

Hello cemetery. So nice to see you!

Seriously.  That’s what I said as I approached the cemetery at the tail end of the longest run of my life (so far).  I thought I was going to die.  It was hot.  It was uphill.  Two hours and 15 minutes had passed since I started the run.   I saw the cemetery and was I so happy.  That cemetery marked the end of my 11 mile run and that’s one heck of an accomplishment for this slow girl.

Earlier this year I decided to finish a half marathon.   I’ve never run before (except maybe as a kid after the ice cream man).  I actually had to Google, “how many miles is a half marathon?”   For some, running a half marathon is not that big of a deal…especially if you’re athletic, in shape, healthy, enjoy sweating and like to exercise.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t any of those at the time I made the half marathon decision.

Slow Girl at the start of 2012: 

  • Athletic – No Way!
  • In shape – I wish.
  • Healthy – Eh, I’d say 50/50.
  • Enjoy sweating – Ew, gross.
  • Like to exercise – Not so much.

Slow Girl on September 3rd, 2012: 

  • Athletic – Not a chance.
  • In shape – Way more so than at the start of the year.
  • Healthy – Yes, I’d say so.  Now I know what quinoa is (and how to pronounce it).
  • Enjoy sweating – Ew, gross.
  • Like to exercise – Well, I secretly enjoy it now but I don’t admit it to myself until it’s over.

I made the half marathon decision for several reasons:

  1. It sounded challenging and I was up for a good challenge.  Can the ultimate hater of running actually run 13.1 miles?  No.  That’s why I follow Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method.  Run, then walk a little.  Run, then walk a little.  Repeat over and over and over.  Totally works for me.
  2. My sister did it and I was proud of her.  I wanted to do it to and be proud of myself.
  3. I was pretty sure some cute running clothes would be involved.
  4. I wanted to prove that I could stick to a fitness plan that would help me achieve a fitness goal.
  5. I hoped that maybe my body would morph into abs, buns, legs and arms of steel (sadly, this has not happened yet).
  6. It was a great way to be one with nature.  OK, reason 6 is crap but at least my body scored a tiny bit of a tan.
  7. I thought maybe I could learn a little something about myself.   All that alone time might give me the opportunity to be introspective.  OR  I could use that precious time trying to figure out the lyrics to all the songs on my running playlist.  Guess how I spend my time?
  8. I wanted to set a good example for my son.  I wanted to start something, work hard at it and succeed in the end.

So there we go.  Eight really compelling reasons I decided to train for and finish a half marathon, which by the way, is October 14th.  I’m actually getting a little nervous even though I ran the 11 miles with no problem (except for the part where I wanted to stop and cry a little).  Thankfully, my husband and son accompanied me (on their bikes) and cheered me on so I had to suck it up and be brave for them.  I wish they could be with me the day of the half marathon.

I’m supposed to do a couple of long runs between now and the half  but I’m having trouble convincing myself that I need to schedule a 14 mile run before the half marathon.  Seems like that would suck the thrill right out of crossing the finish line.  So, I decided to deviate from the master training plan and just do another 11 mile run.  If I can do 11, I can do 13.1, right?

I can do this.  I can do this. I can do this!