Tag: medal

My First Half Marathon!

My First Half Marathon!

I’M OFFICIALLY A HALF MARATHONER! I couldn’t be more happy or proud of this fact! After running 115 miles during 8 weeks of training, I ran my “victory lap” at the Urban Cow Half Marathon with 13.1 miles!

In last week’s post, I told you how I was having some serious hamstring problems in my right leg. My 8 mile long run was cut down to 3.5 and all my efforts to release the tightness were unsuccessful. Thankfully, a few days before the race, I tried a lying down hamstring stretch and felt it release! I was excited but still worried about it affecting my performance at the race. I continued doing this stretch a few times a day along with my usual rolling and stretching.

Because I was part of the Moms Run This Town HERD (team) I was invited to a special, early VIP packet pickup! On Thursday, I headed down to Fleet Feet Sacramento for this event and it was fun getting first access to all the special apparel and goodies created for this race! Plus, I got to bump into my friend Lisa who was there to pick up packets for almost our whole MRTT chapter!

Here we are with Howdy the cow!

After getting my bib packet and stocking up on gels and hydration powder, it was time to rest up for the race. On Saturday, I gathered everything together and laid out my Flat Christa.

Sunday morning finally came and although I was nervous, I was so ready and excited! My dad and I rode down to Sacramento together while my husband and son were going to meet us later.

Walking up to the event, the first thing we saw was the big She/Moms Run This Town tent! 12 Sacramento area chapters were represented at this race! We gathered for this awesome group photo.

I also found some ladies from my chapter and we all walked around sharing our excitement for the race.

Lisa, Kitty, Francine, and Gail – just a few members of my awesome running tribe!

We made our way to the start line but stayed aside while the first wave of the half marathon started. The first wave was for runners who could complete the race in less than 2 hours. While we waited for the second wave to line up, my friend Stephanie surprised me! She wasn’t intending on running this half but joined at the last minute. I was so happy to see her and feel her support!

Follow Stephanie on Instagram! @runstrongrun

Wave 1 finally cleared out and our wave lined up. My MRTT ladies all stood together and exchanged “you got this!” cheers and then they sounded the horn. It was go time!

Lisa and I ran together for the first 7 miles or so. We had so much fun chatting and checking out all there was to see! Costumes – like a man in a multi-color spiky wig and yellow legwarmers and the people running in full cow costumes! How did they not pass out from heat stroke in those things? Live bands jamming every few miles – we would dance, cheer and clap! Sights – like the famous yellow Tower Bridge and the Sacramento River!

My legs started to feel really tired around the 7 mile mark. I blame too much rest trying to avoid aggravating my hamstring before the race. I told Lisa to go on ahead because I was going to take an extra walking break. At that point, I honestly thought I’d rest a little and catch back up to her. Unfortunately, my legs never recovered and I started feeling a lot of pain in my feet, particularly on the soles. Lisa slowly crept further and further into the distance until I didn’t see her anymore.

But it was fun while it lasted!

I was kicking myself for sure but tried to remember everyone’s advice to me to just have fun at my first half. I did walk quite a bit more the last half of the race because my feet were in serious pain. Around mile 10, I had that thought that I think most runners get during a race like this, “Why did I do this to myself?” There were also some thoughts like “How do people do FULL marathons?!” haha! I just kept pushing on the best I could.

Howdy greeted me at mile 10!

During the final mile, “Bad Romance” by Lady Gaga came on which ignited a small burst of energy that had me running more. I came around a corner and was met by this arch with a great cow pun and the excitement of knowing I only had a half mile to go.

That last half mile was quick, intermittent spurts of running – walking – running – walking. My feet were screaming stop but my will to reach the finish line kept me moving! I finally got to where the end was in sight and I pushed harder. Lisa had already finished and she came back to run me in. I sprinted as hard as I could and raised my arms in victory as I crossed the finish line with a time of 2:52!

Words can’t properly describe the feeling of accomplishment that washed over me. I was handed my awesome cowbell medal and then looked for my family. My dad found me first, gave me a big hug, and I started crying. While we were hugging, I saw my husband pushing my son up in the stroller with a big smile on his face. My son gave me a big kiss and my husband gave me a hug and said “You did it!” Seeing my family proud of me felt so good!

That’s Alex’s proud face

I went to the beer garden to enjoy my complimentary Lagunitas beer but, sadly, I had forgotten my I.D. My dad then told me he’d buy me a margarita at lunch. Thanks Dad!

I could barely walk so I sat down to change into my OOFOS recovery sandals. I took off my shoes and found one of my Pro Compression socks had a small spot of blood on it. I was cracking up and making jokes about being a “real” runner now. I took my socks off and found 9 blisters on my feet. This was weird because I didn’t get blisters on any of my training runs and I wasn’t wearing anything different. Also, my foot pain started at the 7 mile mark so it wasn’t because I was running further than I ever had. It’s a mystery.

We slowly shuffled back to the car and went to the Mexican restaurant El Papagayo. I wanted to give them a shout out because they have a whole page of vegan options on their menu AND their food is really good! Maybe it was because I had just run 13.1 miles, but I’m pretty sure I had the best margarita I’ve ever had there!

After lunch, we headed home and I prepared my first ever ice bath. I was scared and for good reason. It was terrible haha! I dunked my lower half in the water, lasted one whole second, said NOPE and got out. It was wayyyyy too cold! So I swapped it out for an epsom salt bath instead. That was much more relaxing!

On race day, I thought “I’m not doing another half for a long time!” The next day, I was looking up half marathons in Germany haha! It’s seriously an addiction! I’m not sure when my next half will be since it will be cold and snowy over there but I’m looking forward to the next round of training and the fun journey that will come with it!

Race Recap – Women’s Fitness Festival 5k

Race Recap – Women’s Fitness Festival 5k

I had been patiently waiting for this race to come around. I was excited because I had heard it was a pretty huge event and it was called Women’s Fitness Festival. I love female empowerment and women supporting each other so I was ready to be surrounded by that kind of energy! Added bonus: my good running friend Stephanie from runstrongrun.com was running the 10k! I always love getting the chance to meet up with her, especially at races.

This event was created by Fleet Feet Sac and supports a very important cause. The proceeds benefit a local program called WEAVE (Women Escaping A Violent Environment) that helps women suffering from domestic abuse and sexual assault. You can read more about this program here. The Women’s Fitness Festival also has free health screenings for all participants and provides awareness and education on women’s health!

The night before the event, I made my shirt and laid out my #FlatMe per my usual pre-race tradition!

I got up at 4 A.M. to get ready. First things first? Coffee. I sipped it while I got dressed. This was my first time trying out Pro Compression socks. I looked in the mirror and felt a little silly wearing such tall socks but I think they are so cute so I was just gonna roll with it. I asked my husband Chris “How do I look?” and he let out a chuckle. He said I looked like a caricature of myself and that I looked cute haha!

Once everything was together, I hopped in the car at 5:30 for the trek to Sacramento. I feel like I beat the crowd heading down that early because I was able to park right across the street from the capitol building. Speaking of which, what a great backdrop to a race!

I slowly made my way over toward the event while enjoying the scenery and cool morning air. Then I met up with Stephanie!

She was hanging out with her awesome #runsquad of 6 other women! I introduced myself and we chatted while waiting for start time. Everyone was sharing their goals for the race and Stephanie asked what mine was. I told her that I just wanted to have fun and enjoy my run with no expectations. She responded “You’re going to set a PR. It’s just what you do!”

Eventually we realized we were all wearing Pro Compression socks and needed an obligatory sock circle photo!

We honestly did not plan this haha

After that we headed for the Start line!

This photo captures the spirit of this event. Over 4,000 amazing, strong women came together to celebrate each other and our love of running!

This was my first race where they had different pace times divided up. A few of us stood together near the 10:00 min/mile sign.

I knew I couldn’t run a 10:00 mile for 3 miles but I decided I wasn’t going to let the pacer out of my sight. This race was women only but the pacers were mostly men. They dressed the part and paced in drag! 😀

I figured if I could still see him, maybe I would get that PR Stephanie was predicting.

The cute girl in the pink glasses to the right of me is Alandrea AKA Mrs.motherrunner on Instagram! Go follow her!

The race announcer did our countdown and we all slowly shuffled through the Start line. It was very crowded so it took a while for everyone to get a little breathing room. Once we did, Stephanie and the other ladies took off like the speedy runners they are and I just kept my eyes on that 10:00 pace sign.

Like every race, I wanted to go fast but told myself go slow. It’s kind of funny how hard it is to do that! The course took us in a loop through the city streets. On almost every corner, there would be a big group of people, most of which were in costumes or had big signs cheering us on! At one point, I heard a girl on the phone telling her mom “I’m behind the girl with the black and white tube socks.” haha!

While I really enjoyed myself during this race, I ran harder than I had ever run. I only took a few very short (we’re talking less than 15 seconds) walking breaks. That last mile was tough but I could see us getting closer and closer to the capitol and that helped me push myself. I sprinted through the finish line and then I was so relieved when it was over! I have proof…look at this picture!

There were firemen waiting with our completion medals which I thought was really cool! After being handed my medal, someone handed me a water bottle and I found a grassy spot to sit and rest for a minute. After I hydrated and caught my breath, I headed for the Results laptops to check my time. Stephanie had called it. She had gotten in my head and manifested a new personal record for me! At 32:35, I had run this race a whole minute and a half faster than my previous PR set a only month before.

After reading my results, I decided to hit some booths before the crowd got too big. I loved being able to shop for running apparel and accessories after my race! I went straight to the giant Fleet Feet Sports Asics tent and got myself a running tank. Then I saw the Whole Foods tent across the street and walked that way. That’s when I bumped into a few of Stephanie’s friends and we decided to eat all together. We were served the tastiest granola I’ve ever had on top of some greek yogurt with fresh fruit on the side. For the next half hour, I got to know these ladies a little bit and they were so wonderful! I was just a mutual friend of Stephanie’s but they were taking the time to ask about me and share about themselves. They were incredibly nice and interesting women and it was so refreshing getting to know them!

After devouring that seriously delicious granola and seeing a few more booths, we were finally ready for our ultimate race reward: The Mimosa Garden.

Just imagine the sound of angels singing here

We went through the line, got our drinks, and found a table where we continued to enjoy each other’s company.

The mimosa was pretty small but it was SO YUMMY. I was bummed I couldn’t have another!

Stephanie had been enjoying the booths but caught up to us when we finished our drinks. We had to get a picture together with our beautiful medals.

Alas, it was time to part ways. Chris and Alex were waiting for me at home. I told everyone how nice it was to meet them all, said goodbye, and headed home. Also, my socks? They were great! My legs didn’t burn and my toes didn’t go numb. These were issues I’d been having when running 3 or more miles. They’re really comfortable too, not constricting! I always wear them on longer runs now!

I recommend this race to all women! If you can’t attend this race, I encourage you to find an all-women race near you! I absolutely loved participating in an event that celebrates females. I’ll be moving to Germany at the end of this year so unfortunately I won’t be able to attend this race again. It’s a huge bummer! So I need you all to go for me so I can live vicariously 😀

Race Recap – Run Around the Rice 5k

Race Recap – Run Around the Rice 5k

I had debated for a few weeks whether I should participate in this race or not. I knew my dad would be in town, it was almost an hour drive away, and I had a 19 month old to plan around. My running friend Kelsey started telling me I needed to do it because she and her friend Katja were going. Then a few days later, I got a text from Stephanie (RunStrongRun) saying I should go because she was doing the 10k. I finally caved under the peer pressure 😀 I asked my dad if he’d like to attend and he said yes so I registered for the race. I did think it would be pretty cool for him to see me doing my thing 🙂

As usual, I had to do my ritual flat Christa photo the night before.

Setting these up is almost as fun as the race.

I went to bed early to get plenty of rest. I woke up and had my coffee and got ready. I had an English muffin, banana, and cherries for breakfast.

My dad and I made the drive out to Richvale, CA. It was just fields and fields of rice paddies which I find pretty and peaceful. We parked and started walking down the gravel road toward the event. We walked up right as the 10k runners were taking off! I saw Stephanie and Kelsey running away among the group.

It was a small event so there weren’t many booths so my dad and I just chatted, took photos, and waited for the 5k to start.

 About 10 minutes before run time, the 5k runners started getting in place at the starting line.

I shook out my legs, started my running playlist, and got my Nike+ running app ready to go.

8:30 A.M. came and it was 3…2…1… START!

Something I noticed almost immediately was how hot it was. I assumed a morning race would be nice and cool but that wasn’t the case.

The first half mile or so was on gravel road. I was concentrating on pacing myself and not taking off too fast at the beginning. This was especially important since we were obviously going to be running on unpaved terrain and it was going to be harder than a normal run. After a while, we turned right and started on a grass and dirt trail that lasted most of the race. The paddies around us were serene and I was enjoying the nature. It was a really pretty run!

Nike+ chimed in at mile 1 with my time of 10:39. I was surprised that I had gone that fast since I was trying to go slower but I guess the race adrenaline was making me speedy anyway. I was feeling good and this time had me excited that I might get another new PR.

But then came mile 2.

I had made a huge mistake. I had eaten that big breakfast instead of my usual Clif Bar. Stomach cramps hit me hard. I tried to power through them at first but it made them worse. I had to walk almost the whole second mile. I kept trying to run when it would subside but they would come right back. I was upset. I didn’t know if the cramps were going to stop, I hate walking during a race, and my chance at a PR was crushed. My morale went out the window.

Around the mile 3 starting point, there was a station of people cheering and one of them was holding a sign that said “Just keep running!” It gave me motivation to try to run again. The stomach cramps stayed at a minimum the rest of the race but now I was dealing with other issues. I was hot, worn out and my calves were burning from running on the trail. I was able to run a lot more of the third mile but I still had to take some walking breaks. My dad saw me struggling and texted me the sweetest thing!

I was mentally defeated, burning up, dehydrated, and my left foot was getting sharp pains if I landed on the rocks a certain way. Despite all this, once I saw the finish line, I wouldn’t let myself stop running.

Notice the heat blurs behind me

A big part of what kept me going was knowing my dad was watching. I found the strength to push through, keep running, and I even sprinted at the very end.

This was the hardest race I’ve run so I was just relieved that it was over! I paced around catching my breath and my dad led me to a literal trough filled with water bottles haha. I told him about all the trouble I was having and he told me he was proud of me 🙂 When I felt less like I was dying, I made it to the Results laptop to check my time. As expected, I hadn’t set a new PR but I was shocked to see that I had placed 2nd in the Female 30-39 group! I had never placed in a race before so I was really excited!

After that, we found Stephanie and said hello! She also placed 2nd in her age group for the 10k! We posed together with our finisher medals.

Then I heard “Christa Christa!” and Kelsey and her friend Katja had found us. This was Kelsey’s first 10k! Katja actually finished as the #1 female overall for the 5k. Great accomplishments all around!

Me, Kelsey, and Katja!

Instead of medals, they handed out goodie bags for all of the finishers. What was inside? Rice of course!

I mean…why WOULDN’T you win rice at the Run Around the Rice 5k/10k?

The day came to a close with a crop duster flying right over us!

In spite of how bad I felt during the race, overall it was a great time! I got some experience with challenges I hadn’t faced before so I can be more prepared in future events. I’m glad my friends talked me into it and that my dad got to be there! Every race just makes me want to participate in more. I love the challenge, the satisfaction of accomplishment, and most of all, the community and camaraderie! The people make it a hundred times more fun.

Be sure to take a look at my races page and furthermore, sign up for some and join me!

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