Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Ramblings on Running (and the Danville, PA Half Marathon story)

With my boys after the race - May 5, 2012

I ran a half marathon and enjoyed it. I know, I know – it sounds like crazy talk. And if you would have asked me six months ago if such a thing could be possible I would have said ‘heck to the no!’ because throughout my life Linsy + running = misery. But its true none the less, and I will tell the story behind it.

But first, I want to start off my listing the awesome benefits of training/running:
  • You are forced to live healthier. Saturday early morning long runs are a constant reminder that if you don’t get enough sleep or if you eat crap – you will not feel well during the long run.
  • Running is the ultimate tourism tool. There is no better way to see a location that to run through its streets, breath its air. Yes, you can walk a city – but you cover so much more ground running and therefore can experience so much more in an up close and personal way. In the past few months I have run all around Hershey, through the farmlands of Danville, on a high school track in Henrietta, NY, in downtown Philadelphia (and up the Rocky steps), through Riverside Park and Central Park in NYC. Running shoes these days are so super light and easy to pack – exercise is always at your fingertips when on the go. In life, I am so excited about traveling to new places and running when I get there.
  • When it’s a good running day, you feel amazing. I love love to eat. The perfect chocolate chip cookie with homemade lemonade or gooey garlic breadsticks with marinara. When the correct food choice is made, it fills the bloodstream with happiness and all is right in the world. But here is something CRAZY – I am convinced, the high of a good workout beats the high of good food. Your muscles are energized and sharp, your mind clear of clutter, your lungs and heart filled with vitality. You feel strong and fierce and amazing. So I think that is what running is all about. Reaching for that feeling.
  • Another thing that has happened since starting to run – I no longer crave soda. This is good because I am saving money not buying it, and it is nice to not lug the heavy soda cans from the grocery store. The downside is I remember the beautiful combo of pizza and diet coke, salad and diet coke, Thai food and diet coke. You get the idea, and now – diet coke just doesn’t sound that good and I crave water. Not sure why this has happened, but its real people.
  • And now – with all this talk about the benefits, I have to state the main negative. Once you become a runner, you run the risk of boring non-runners with nonstop talking talking talking talking blah blah blah about running. When runners are around runners, running seems to be the sole topic of conversation. Its insta-bonding if you are a runner, and insta-boring if you are not. I am going to work very hard towards conversation diversity. (you know, besides this long, rambling blog post about running.)
And now, the story on my half marathon:

So happy to see my boys at the finish line!


One day in March, I was running on the treadmill at the gym next to Misty C. and for the first time in my life I ran five miles. I was chatting with her and it just happened. I was blown away. It was this strange feeling like ‘what- the rules I have been playing by my whole life (including the rule that I am not capable of running long distance) are no longer valid?’ At that point I set the goal to run 15 miles a week.

The next week, Leslie S. and Sara K. approached me at the gym.  They said I should sign up for the Danville half marathon (6 weeks away). Walking out of the gym, they explained that training is pretty straightforward  – three short runs throughout the week (3 miles, 5 miles, 3 miles) and then a long run on the weekend. I thought, ‘well, I’ll give it a go.’ So, I signed up and hoped for the best.

Over the next six weeks, I followed the simple training schedule. (Although I didn’t always do the weekday runs, opting instead to work out extra hard in Deb Orlando’s combat and BP classes.) On Saturdays in April I –
  • ran 5 miles in Hershey
  • ran 7 miles in Hershey
  • ran 10 miles in Hershey/Hummelstown with Leslie and Sara (and it was hard and I was not feeling well and I thought it was brutal in everyway. But I was kinda amazed that I finished)
  • ran 6 miles in Rochester, NY
  • And that was it; the next Saturday was 13 miles in Danville.
The day before the race Leslie, Sara and I drove down to Danville (during a MAJOR hail storm) to pick up our packets. That night we hit up Applebee’s, roamed around Target, and spent the night at Comfort Inn in Bloomsburg. 

At Leslie's house, ready to drive to Danville

 Packet pickup

A wild and crazy night at Applebee's - night before the race

The night before the race was BRUTAL. I was so nervous that I was completely unable to fall asleep. Around 3 am, in an attempt to change it up and finally fall asleep, I took the nasty comforter and slept on the nasty floor. My guess is I fell asleep around 4 and we woke up at 7ish to get ready. All morning pre-race I was nervous and felt sick and I was sure the race was going to be a disaster. Nothing sounded good to eat but I finally willed myself to eat a power bar.

We drove to the race starting point, pinned on our numbers and waited for the starting gun. The gun went off, and I just started moving and hoping for the best. I ran the first mile with Leslie (Sara had already taken off quickly ahead). After the first mile, I told Leslie to go for it because I was not interested at all in a fast time, just finishing. She is so fun to run with but it was better for her to get her own pace. At about mile 2, I met up with a girl who was running my exact pace. We chatted and I felt pretty good and we stayed together all the way to the mid race point. At each mile there were drink stations, I tried to drink just moderate amounts. Throughout the entire race at each mile I continued to be amazed that I felt so good. The weather was perfect – cloudy and a little breeze. It was so peaceful to be in the beautiful countryside and it was fun to be around other runners and be part of a goal everyone is reaching to achieve. Somewhere around mile six Tiffany called and we chatted for a bit. I was feeling great. I liked that the race had a midway point to reach, and then you turn around and run back. This way I could give Sara and Leslie high fives as we passed each other.

For the last half of the race I cruised along in complete disbelief that I was not dying. They handed out ice at mile 7 – which was amazing and perfect. Mile 9 had a station of snacks (granola bars, trail mix, bananas). The couponer fought the urge to stash free stuff in my pockets; I resisted and carried on.

Funny story - at mile 9 I was running up a hill past a woman in her mid-fifties with cutoff levi shorts and long bleached blond hair. She looked up at me and with a scratchy smoker voice said, ‘oh my. You have the worst posture. Your back is going to kill you. I don’t know how you get any oxygen running like that.’  I wasn’t expecting anyone to say anything other than very encouraging ‘hey, good job. You look great. Keep it up.’ And in life, I generally always love the unexpected. I commented about how I probably had bad posture because of the hill and thought to myself how odd it was for her to complain to me in her scratchy voice about me getting oxygen. But it was humorous, and I’ll try to work on my posture, and I just kept running.

At mile 11.5 - I thought, ‘this is it, the final stretch. It’s the best part of a cardio class at the gym, the last fifteen minutes when you really feel amazing.’ I wanted to enjoy it and I did. Maybe I should have run a little faster because I felt so good, but overall I think it went great. I felt emotional at mile 12 that I was really doing this – which was perfect timing to get out any tears, allowing me to be calm and composed at the finish line. On the final stretch down main street in Danville, Leslie and Sara met up with me and we ran to the end together. Darin and the boys were there cheering and it was so much fun to finish. And it was a blast to finish with the two girls that had been so encouraging and inspiring to me!

Running toward the finish line with two awesome ladies!


Running is challenging physically, mentally, emotionally. Not all runs are created equal. Each run is affected by your mood, the weather, your diet, your location. Crap days happen. The occurrence of pain (side cramps), cardio tiredness, boredom – it happens. But it’s not permanent. The next run is usually better. And even if it’s a crap run, it is still good exercise for my body. I just feel so lucky and grateful that the day of the half marathon was not a crap day – but a great day. Running is no funny business, but it’s worth it.