Tag Archives: Running

Rockin’ the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Vegas

 Hello Readers!  The New Year is right around the corner and what better way to start the New Year than with a little inspiration to set a fitness goal and reach it?  With that in mind, today’s post comes to you from my cousin Katie Simmons about her experience training for and running her first half marathon  – none other than the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Las Vegas in December 2011.  Thanks Katie!

33,279 people finished the 2011 Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll Half-Marathon, and I am one of them! My first thought as I crossed the finish line was “Oh my gosh! I did it!!”  Although the training program I used was 9 weeks long, I had been training for this moment much longer!  I decided to sign up for a half-marathon after I completed my second sprint triathlon this fall!

I know that the only way I will consistently exercise is if I have an event to train for, a training plan taped to my bathroom mirror, and a highlighter to mark off completed exercises:

I followed the beginner training plan that I found on Runners World. I used this training program because it was the only free one I found at the time. The program had me run Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  During the week, the runs focused on interval training in the middle and at the end of the runs.  Saturday was an easy shorter run.  Sunday was a long run.

Training for a half-marathon was challenging mentally and physically.  Before I began the training program, the furthest I had ever run was 6.2 miles and the fastest I had ever done that was in 10 minute miles.  The seasons were changing as I continued my training which meant that it was dark when I left for work and dark when I got home from work. There were days I was too sick to run, and days I was too lazy. 

BUT, I also had a voice inside my head saying “Yes, you can!”  That voice belongs to a trainer at the Rec Center I go to.  She would say that at the 8th repetition of every exercise, and it really stuck!  I found that telling myself “Yes, you can”  over and over during my runs when all I really wanted to do was stop running helped take away the self-doubt and made me more confident for the next run.  Luckily, my boss was willing to give me an extended lunch break so that I could get my 8 and 9 mile runs in during the day light hours outside.  And I always had the looming feeling of accomplishment after highlighting a workout that motivated me to lace up my shoes! :)

The day of the race, I was excited and nervous!  It was a different feeling waiting all day for the race because every race I have ever done started early in the morning.  The race had coordinated a shuttle bus to take us from the hotel to the starting line, but there was so much traffic from the strip and a few surrounding streets being shut down that I made it to the starting line a little late!

The course started at the south end of the strip at Mandalay Bay, headed north to Old Town Las Vegas, made a loop, and then headed south back to Mandalay Bay.  As I approached the starting line, I turned on iMapMyRun and started my play list.

As I crossed the starting line, I was really excited!! There were thousands of people around me, and a band to get us pumped up!  My plan was to start out a little slower than my goal pace for the first five miles, run my goal pace the next five miles, pick up the last three miles (thanks to some advice from a veteran half-marathoner ;) and finish in 2 hours 11 minutes, averaging 10 minute miles. 

The race went by really fast. I started in a slower corral than my race pace because I arrived at the start line late, and so was weaving through people. There were bands about every mile on the course, and there was a lot to look at!  Before I knew it, I had already reached the 10K mark, and I was running barely slower than goal pace at 1:03:22.  I did not have a water bottle, Gatorade, or gels on me because they were provided along the course.  However, there were so many people and the stations were not marked as to whether they were water or Gatorade (this race used Cytomax) so next time I will carry my own!

I took my picture at about the half-way mark near Freemont Street.

At the 10 mile mark, I was at the north end of the strip, and could see Mandalay Bay.  I started to pick up the pace.  By mile 12 my legs were burning with every step, but I was not about to stop.  I kept pushing, sprinting as I approached the finish line giving it everything I had.  I finished in 2:11:30!! I averaged 10:02 miles!!  My iPhone says that I actually ran 13.57 miles because I did not take every turn as tight as possible, and did a considerable amount of weaving!  So I really ran 9:42 miles, shattering my goal!!

Sweet Victory!! A Couple of Finish Line Pics with My Sweet Finisher’s Medal!!

 I finished 9,520 out of 33,279 Competitors (top 28%), 4,253 of 21,134 Women (top 20%), and 233 of 960 Females Aged 18-24 (top 24%)!  I rocked it!! And it rocked me!  I was really sore afterwards!! I did some light stretching before we headed back to our hotel and hobbled for the next couple days, but it was worth it!!  It has been a couple weeks since the race, and I think I might just sign up for another one… :)

Just remember, “Yes, you can!!!!”

***Sway and I are very grateful to you all, our Dear Readers, for following along in our pursuit of good health and happiness in 2011.  We wish you a wonderful New Year with plenty of adventure and wellness all around.  See you all in the New Year!

~R

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3.1 miles and a turkey dinner later

The weather was absolutely perfect for the 11th annual Turkey Trek!  The sun warmed me up, the skies were clear, and there wasn’t any wind.  Over 1300 runners and walkers particpated this year.  This included the stroller derby contingent, happy walkers, casual runners, and elite racers.  Not to be forgotten are the many race organizers and cheerful supporters.

Alas, the perspective on this photo reveals my start position - pretty much at the back of the pack :)

I think the one mile Fun Run for the kids was conducted twice:  once soon after the 5K was over and then again at the scheduled time of 10:45am.  Other than this little hiccup, the morning appeared to be a success.

Approaching the turnaround at Mountain and 12th Street.

Granted, I’m not responsible for preparing a Thanksgiving feast, but it was still a great way to jumpstart my metabolism for the day.  I must say it was especially fun this year because of so much of my family that paricipated in race:  husband, sisters, nieces, in-laws, and cousins from out of town.  I definitely recommend this for next year!

~R

Keeping Fit as the Belly Expands

I knew before I became pregnant that I wanted to continue exercising throughout my pregnancy.  The consensus is that it’s beneficial for mom and baby.  Sounds straightforward enough, but when I started really trying to investigate exactly what type of exercises I could do and how intensely I should workout I wasn’t finding what I wanted.  I found many suggestions to begin yoga.  “Okay,” I thought, “I’ve done yoga before and it can be very challenging, so this could be good.”  Then when I would read about the sequences of poses that were suggested by various books I was really turned off.  They looked to be mostly resting poses where this silly sketched pregnant lady is propped up with pillows and blankets and just lying there.  It wasn’t “exercise” as I had envisioned.  (Caveat:  check out my post about prenatal yoga at Hot Yoga Downtown.)

Already bummed that I would have to take a break from soccer, I was looking for something more along the lines of running, spin, and weight lifting.  Instead I read that I should “try the elliptical,” “try walking,” “don’t let your heart rate exceed 140 BPM,” and “stop doing abdominal exercises.”  As someone who shuns the elliptical in favor of running and stair-climbing, likes to see her heart rate reach 180 in spin class, and cherishes her core-focused workouts, this did not sit well and so I had to look harder.  I know I need to adjust, but are walking and yoga really all there is?  The health of my baby and me are my number one concern but does this mean cardio and maintaining muscle mass are out of the question?  I think not.

Elite Runners: Paula Radcliff and Kara Goucher

 At first, I read about Kara Goucher and Paula Radcliff (professional runners) in Runners’ World running throughout their pregnancies and using gravity defying running machines.  While I was inspired, I was quite intimidated and, oh yeah, running isn’t my job.  Little by little I uncovered some gems of inspiration like this blog by a gym in Richmond, California that is packed full of inspiring pregnant (1st, 2nd, and 3rd trimester) women working out with kettle bells.  I also found these blog posts (and this one) about pregnant women keeping fit by weight lifting, water running, swimming, and kayaking.  My friend also gave me a handy instructional book for trainers about working with pregnant women.  I love that it’s written from the perspective of a trainer with information about the “why” and “how” and not just “do this move, not this one, then do this move, etc.”

With all of this in mind, I’ve taken up spin again at the YMCA in my neighborhood.  It feels so good to get some cardio I can’t believe it!  Although I can still jog, my pace is so slow it’s sort of frustrating, hence, spin.  I like that I can hop on a spin bike and still pump out sprints and hill climbs.  Also, I continue to enjoy the strength workouts that we have our JV soccer team do during practice.  At this point, I can still do most of them.  (Of course, I’ve consulted with my OB regarding my workouts.)

So I guess I didn’t find the magic book, “Rebecca:  Here is Your Guide to the Kinds of Exercise You Would Like Throughout Your Pregnancy,” instead I’m writing it as I go, drawing upon the experiences of many different women.  Based on how I’ve progressed so far, I’m sure I’ll need to continue adapting and adjusting my workouts as I get closer to my due date.

 Lastly, I will keep this mama in mind when it’s time to start working out after I have my baby (if the video in that link doesn’t encourage you to get moving I don’t know what will!).

~R