All’s Well That Ends Well… Pretty Much

Megan Cox and her new friend, Omi Nhin.

Megan Cox and her new friend, Omi Nhin.

By Megan Cox

The race is over. The half-marathon I’ve been training for during the past eight months, ever since I had baby number two, took place this past weekend.

Along with almost 10,000 half-marathon runners, I crossed the finish line. But it wasn’t pretty.

Two weeks ago, I ran an eleven-mile training run under my goal of a nine-minute mile. I was psyched. For the Dallas Half Marathon, I didn’t think I’d achieve the 1:48:01 that I ran in 2007 in the Baltimore Half, but I had high hopes of keeping my time right at two hours.

But life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans, does it?

Everything started out well. My family and I made it from Oklahoma City to my cousin’s house in Frisco, Texas, without any major difficulties. Saturday afternoon, my husband and I had a chance to explore the Dallas Health and Fitness Expo without the kiddos.

We picked up my info package, bib, and the race T-shirt. All was well with the world.

But my life is not happy without some drama. Enter the stomach bug. Something got a hold of me by Saturday evening. I was up several times that night, puking my guts out, and again at four a.m., about an hour before I was to be picked up for the race by a friend of my cousin.

I tried to sip water and eat some bread before I left the house. I pulled out my brave face and put it on. But inside, I was really, really worried.

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Fueling Up! The Perfect Carb-Load

lululemon athletica/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

Three… two… one. Race day is here!

The weather isn’t making any promises, and I’ve been told my ride will be picking me up at 5 a.m. on Sunday day morning, but at the end of that day (and hopefully earlier rather than later), my first race after two pregnancies will be complete.

I’ve got just one more challenge to overcome (well, besides navigating the Health and Fitness Expo at the Dallas Convention Center the day before the race). Yes, my last obstacle is making sure my body is properly fueled for my thirteen miles. And this starts with the perfect fueling plan.

By trolling expert advice on the web, here are some important points I need to consider as I near race day.

  1. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Just because it’s race week, I shouldn’t drastically change my diet. Moderate amounts of unrefined carbs are the ticket to fueling the body, but increasing too much fiber may cause a runner to spend more time in the Porta Potty than on the course!
  2. Water, water everywhere. Hydration is critical. Avoiding alcohol and high concentrations of caffeine help the body keep hydrated. In fact, I should be drinking more water starting now. But I’ll still need at least one cup of coffee. Between a toddler, baby, and 4:30 a.m. wake up time, I’ll definitely need a kick in the pants!
  3. The early bird gets the worm. Better to carb-load at an early dinner (or even a late lunch). Since I’ll be going to bed when the babies do, I’m not certain how early will be early enough. Can you eat dinner at noon?
  4. Be pro protein. Don’t be hatin’ on protein. A body needs it every day, and the carb-load dinner is no exception. I just need to keep it light and lowfat.
  5. Pasta is always a good idea. Wherever I found information on carb-loading, pasta always seemed to be a good choice. I just don’t want to go sauce or cheese-crazy.

Of course, plenty of other carbs exist that are perfect for the carb-loading dinner, but for this gal, I think I’ll go traditional.

Well, that’s all for now. If you want to hear how things are going on race day, check out my twitter (@teenmobster) for updates about my experience. Hopefully the rain and wind won’t wash or blow me away!!!

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.

What’s Your Race Day Checklist?

Raymond Shobe/flickr.com

By Megan Cox

Well, folks, my come-to-Jesus moment is approaching.

In less than a week, I’ll be springing out of the “corral” (Really? This is really what they call the place where they put the runners at the start of the race?) to participate in the Dallas Half-Marathon. This post-pregnancy body is about as ready as it’s going to get.

And I’ll tell you, the last two weeks have been no walk (or even a nice, easy jog) in the park. I’ve been fighting colds (I have my toddler to thank for that, who uses my T-shirt like a tissue when I’m not looking), a sore right foot, and a treadmill on the fritz.

Also, my race day buddy isn’t going to be able to join me on Sunday, and he totally has a great excuse. But I’m sad anyway.

But don’t worry! I am as pumped as this mama of two little ones can be. My nervous energy is already starting to build, and I can’t WAIT to get in that corral.

Neigh! (Sorry, I just couldn’t help myself.)

Since I haven’t done this race thing in four long years, I think it’s time to make sure I have my ducks in a row. Here are the nine things I need to check and recheck before 8 a.m. Sunday morning.

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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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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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