Race Day is Almost Here

lululemon athletica/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

In less than two weeks, I will be running my first road race—a half marathon—in four years.

In those last four years, I’ve had two babies (the youngest is seven months), made a major move across the country (Washington D.C. to Oklahoma City), and contracted my first young adult book series (the first, Accidental Mobster, was released this past September).

So, needless to say, busy times for this gal.

When I started blogging for this site, my new baby was just two weeks old, and if you’ve been following my journey, you know it’s been an up and down ride. Some days I get finished with a run, and I am just so buzzed. Others, I feel like I’ve sapped all my energy before seven a.m., only to face a day with a two-year-old and an infant. Yikes.

Seven months later, I can say I’m proud of myself—and really, of all the people who read this blog. If it weren’t for my posts, I’m not certain I could have kept myself motivated to train. Therefore, I’m sending out props to all those running mommies who aren’t blogging about it. You’re my heroes!

On December 9, I will be running in the Dallas Half Marathon. The race was formerly known as the Dallas White Rock Marathon and Half Marathon. It began in 1971, with just a few hundred marathon runners. Now the Dallas Marathon boasts 25,000 runners as well as a relay race, 5K, and half-marathon.

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Pretty amazing quest for a pair of half-marathoners out in Big Sur, Calif., who just happened to win the race together. Three weeks after they got married!

10 Things This Runner is Thankful For

By Megan Cox

Oh yes! It’s time to give thanks. Thanks for a big yummy turkey! Thanks that election season is over! Thanks that Christmas shopping is well underway! Thanks that my babies go to sleep and wake up around the same time, giving me—wait for it—free time!

Or, at least, time to write this cool blog.

But in all seriousness (or, in my case, semi-seriousness is generally the best I can achieve), it’s time for my list of what I’m thankful for.

More specifically, the top ten things I’m thankful for as a runner:

  1. Cooler weather. Now that the 80 degree weather has finally left Oklahoma City, I can run outside in the pleasant, brisk air without drowning in my own sweat. Score!
  2. Glow sticks. I discovered these on the Halloween aisle in Walmart, and they’re useful for keeping me from getting flattened in the dark. The glow sticks are cheap (like 97 cents), effective, and make me feel like I just left an awesome party.
  3. GPS watches. Well, generally I’m thankful for these. They keep my distance and time with first-rate reliability. I’m really thankful for them when I have a good run. On a bad run? I just pretend the watch isn’t working right.
  4. No skinny jeans. That’s right people! I know this may seem off-subject, but boy am I thankful that the fashion trend that just won’t quit is NOT required for running. With short, muscular legs like mine, I really hate this style.
  5. Flat-tire running strollers. Running is hard enough. Pushing a twenty pound child at the same time? Totally ruins it for me. But the chronic flat tire on my stroller is the perfect excuse to leave junior at home with Daddy!
  6. Apple and their iPod. I can’t help but send love to Apple. Many, many treadmill runs are made better because of my little pink Nano.
  7. Musicians that make me move. Adam Levine, Cee-lo Green, One Republic – I love you all (and so many, many others)!
  8. A race before the end of the world. Because the supposed apocalypse isn’t until December 21 (or is it the 12th? I can never remember), I will happily have my opportunity to run my half marathon on December 9!
  9. Shoes that feel like I’m running on whip topping. Here’s to the running store that fitted me for my sneakers. I love them so much I’ve been tempted to curl up with my awesome purple and gray shoes at night.
  10. Other runners. All the runners who comment on Facebook inspire me because I know there are so many awesome half-marathoners out there like myself. I’m thankful I get to run alongside strong, motivated people!

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.

Running: Not Always the Easy Road

lululemon athletica/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

I had a lovely weekend with my brother and sister-in-law.

Sure, our babies had their fussy moments, and God knows my toddler gave some very passionate demonstrations of the terrible twos, but all in all, we had a blast. There’s nothing like a houseful of kids to keep the grownups happily busy.

My brother and I took a few hours one morning to do a long run, and I’ll admit that I’ve missed having a running buddy (my hubby was my partner for marathon training in 2008, my most recent race before my half marathon this December—and before my babies).

The conversation, although a little breathy, sure made the time fly by. I came back from our run feeling tired but invigorated. Sore, but inspired.

My sister-in-law and I chatted about running. In fact, we had a similar conversation to one I have with so many people. “I hate running,” is the common theme. The treadmill is especially the subject of loathing.

In fact, my husband and I even had a brief “discussion” about the subject of running. “You love it!” he claimed one day. “It’s your hobby.”

Here’s the thing. Yes, I do love it. I guess you could call it a hobby, because it is something I choose to do in my free time. However, to say that I enjoy it each time I run wouldn’t be quite true.

Running is hard work. It’s not always fun, and it’s certainly not easy. It takes mental and physical discipline. At the ten-mile mark, sometimes it even takes emotional discipline. There are days, more often than not, that toes bleed and knees ache.

Now, couple all that with fitting a training run into a busy, grueling schedule—which most everyone has these days—and training for a race becomes quite the mountain to climb.

So why would a runner like me express love for the sport?

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What is Fast?

Nick Webb/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

The fastest man at this past Olympics was Usain Bolt, who ran the 100 meters in 9.63 seconds. If a person were to run that speed for 13.1 miles, he would complete the race in about 34 minutes.

That, my friends is A LOT of math for this mama of two little ones, especially when my kiddos are getting up earlier due to daylight savings time. In fact, I really don’t want to tell you how long it took me to come up with that number. Let’s just say it’s been a long time since I studied for those SATs.

Anyway, Bolt’s Olympic record speed calculated for 13.1 miles is silly. If someone were to attempt to run this fast (which translates to over 23 miles per hour), he or she might suffer the same unfortunate fate as Pheideippides, the first very first marathoner.

For humans — and for living things in general — the shorter the distance, the faster we can go. Pure physics and stuff.

But if you do look at the speed records for the half-marathon, I assure you they are quite impressive. The world record in the half marathon for men, ratified by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), is 58:23, set on March 21, 2010, by Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, in Lisbon, Portugal.

The IAAF world record for women is 1:05:50, set on February 18, 2011 by Mary Keitany of Kenya, in Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates.

So what is the average speed of these world records? While we’re on the subject of math, let’s do a little more. I’m just warning you that it will be very rough I-got-a-bachelor-of-arts-degree math.

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What’s in a Half (Marathon)?

lululemon athletica

By Megan Cox

We all know about the first marathoner, right? It’s such a cheerful story. Legend has it that a Greek messenger named Pheidippides was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to announce the defeat of the Persians.

It was August, apparently, and Pheidippides ran the entire way. What happened when he finished? He died from exhaustion. Inspiring, huh? I guess the moral of the story for us runners is that 1) you should never overexert yourself in the heat, and 2) proper training is essential.

Anyway, the marathon as we know it was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896 (although the distance wasn’t standardized until 1921). And there are now more than 500 marathons a year (that, my friends, is a lot of miles).

But what about the half?

Well, the half-marathon has become very popular in just the last ten years. Many half-marathons share the same course as a marathon (remember my list of tough half-marathons?).

The race is popular because a half-marathon is super challenging, but training for it doesn’t have to take over your life. For example, I am a mommy of a six-month-old and a two-year-old, and I am running a half marathon next month. Tough? Yes.

Impossible? I don’t think so.

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13 Steps to Entertaining the Runner’s Mind

lululemon athletica

By Megan Cox

Well, this past week I finally banked a double-digit run (just barely—it was ten miles). Unfortunately, I completed it in gale force winds (I swear, it was like a mini-tornado out there!) that gave me the sensation of running backwards.

I almost talked myself out of running the full distance several times during the ten miles. But eventually, I stopped being a big weenie and completed my planned distance. It was when I allowed myself to get lost in thought that I did best, plodding along at a steady rate and keeping the negative thinking at bay.

So here’s my idea. Why not map out a route for my hyperactive mind just as I might map out a physical route for a run? Oh yes, this is such a good idea! Obviously, this mental map is a personal thing, but maybe mine will give you ideas for yours!

Here goes…

  • Mile 1: Think about the fact that I have managed to have someone who is not me look after my kids for two hours. Maybe I’m breathing like a choo choo, but at least the only whining I will have to listen to for a short while will be my own.
  • Mile 2: Try not to focus on my still rapid breathing and take in the sites around me. On race day, this might include the variety of people who are running or watching the race.
  • Mile 3: Dinner! What will I make tonight? What will I make tomorrow? What will I ask my should-have-been-on-the-cooking-channel husband to make me this weekend (and why isn’t he cooking all of our dinners?). Let my mind chew on the idea of a juicy steak. Or chicken enchiladas. Or both.
  • Mile 4: Make a shopping list for imagined dinners.
  • Mile 5: Enjoy the fact that my breathing has finally settled and I’ve passed that persnickety thirty-minute point. Spend the rest of the mile feeling like one uber-powerful female.
  • Mile 6: Come up with names for the third child that we are not having.
  • Mile 7: Come up with names for the dog that we will probably get instead.
  • Mile 8: Come up with my next three Tweets. Make sure they are super-duper funny and/or witty.
  • Mile 9: Having failed Mile Eight’s task, come up with three Tweets that will at least get people remotely interested in checking out my book on Amazon.
  • Mile 10: Name all fifty states and their capitals.
  • Mile 11: Having failed Mile Ten’s challenge, sing the words to two or three of my favorite Disney princess songs.
  • Mile 12: Having succeeded in meeting Mile Eleven’s challenge, make a plan of how to watch at least one of the saved TV shows on my DVR that my husband won’t watch and my kids can’t watch (i.e., the mind-numbing but totally addictive Vampire Diaries). Hey, we all have our guilty pleasures.
  • Mile 13: Think about all the yummy food I get to eat because I’ve tortured myself for thirteen miles.

After that, it’s just two-tenths of a mile to the finish line, so I’m pretty certain I’ll be ready to clear the brain and just speed toward the end of the race.

Who knew thirteen miles could go by so fast!

This is a guest post by Megan Cox, an Oklahoma City-based novelist, writer and contributing blogger for HalfMarathons.Net. Learn more about Megan at her website.