AthHalf – Athens, GA

Chandler with medal and signOn October 20, 2013, I finished the Athens Half Marathon (AthHalf) with a time of 1:58:57. I am still searching for the right words and emotions to describe the experience. Running a half marathon was on my “some day I will bucket list” until earlier this year when I made it a reality and signed up in April.

Running the half marathon distance was a mental and physical challenge for me. I posted last week about having three goals and ultimately decided to give it my all and try for sub-2. I felt confident on race weekend after encouragement from running friends that I could do it. Committing to a Hal Higdon plan and training for about a year with Athens Road Runners also prepared me to work hard in this race!

Thoughts about the course: Athens is hilly! Usually when people ask me about Athens my response includes something about the hills. The hills are especially salient because I am a runner. I know I can run on Milledge and Prince and it will be flat, but anywhere else and I encounter the infamous Athens hills.

AthHalf courseAthens Road Runners group runs trained on most of the course so I knew what to expect. The course starts out mostly flat for the first five miles, but once you get to Gran Ellen and “Zoo Rd” you encounter the first tough hill. The hardest part of the race for me was on River Rd at the 10th mile. The race organizers set up “bands for every mile” but there was no band and no spectators along River Rd. It was a really long stretch (about a mile) without any excitement. It is a steep incline to get up to E. Campus Rd behind Sanford and I walked through the water stop to give myself a break.

I did not expect the last mile to be so tough. The route crossed the bridge by Sanford Stadium, turned right at Memorial Hall – and there were more hills! Then we turned left and went up a very painful hill at Baldwin. The course was pretty manageable for the hilly town of Athens (but the last mile was not nice!) The race ends running through Sanford Stadium and around the hedges which was an awesome experience!

Chandler and Evan Running.

The best part about this half marathon experience was my training partner, Evan. It is much easier to stick to a plan when you have someone to go on all of the training runs with you. I do not think I could have found a more perfect running partner. Evan is just as competitive as I am and not only committed to every day on the training plan but patient enough to wait on mornings when I woke up late or overslept. Plus, I do not want to run alone and in the dark at 6 am so I really appreciate Evan’s company! He basically dragged me along during the race and is the reason I was able to run a sub 2-hour half! I am impressed by his improvement and commitment and appreciate everything he has done to help my running. Thanks Evan!

 

So what is next? I want to run more! Running is still my activity of choice for reflection, personal health, wellness, and taking a break from work and school. I already signed up to run the 2014 Cooper River Bridge Run. I am also looking into running more half marathons. And maybe a marathon one day? What races do you recommend?

No excuses. #safit in August

It used to be really easy to prioritize anything and everything BUT exercise. In the past, when life got busy, exercise was the first thing to go. Since starting graduate school running has provided “me-time” and proved something I wanted to keep on my calendar.

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Running early in the morning is the best! Sweaty & hot in the Georgia humidity

August is a crazy month for many professions, including student affairs. August means students returning to college campuses and includes activities such as RA training, move-in, welcome week programs, organization retreats, the beginning of class, and much more. I am training for a half marathon and did not want to let August get in the way of my training plan, so here’s what I did:

I prepared for my training presentations in advance and went to bed early every night.

I woke up early (5 am early) to run every morning. My speed workouts are at 5:30 am on Wednesdays so it was not a major adjustment.

Lastly, I did not let anything (including a 4 hour duty call) stop me from my scheduled run!

Now, some of my dedication was a little crazy – I probably should have slept in after the all-night duty call…. But running and this training plan have provided me an outlet for relaxation and de-stressing.

Thanks Evan!

Thanks Evan!

My commitment to running the past three weeks is proof that I can find time to run during the busiest times. It was also helpful to have an accountability buddy. I owe a lot of this to my friend Evan for making sure I was downstairs to meet him at 5:15 am every morning. My August philosophy was a little different than my experience this summer. Read my post about adjusting to a hectic June schedule when I was working Orientation at UNCG.

What works best for you to stay healthy during busy times? Do you prefer to exercise in the morning or at night? No matter how busy you are, try to do “just enough to stay sane.” And even if it’s training week or move-in, put your health first when you can!

Orientation Programs and Running

I knew the long hours of orientation would challenge my running schedule this summer. My Nike+ data shows it too: 56.9 miles in June compared to 76.8 miles in May. As a runner, I was feeling down about the missed days, missed miles, missed personal reflection time, missed exercise, and so-on. Running a race on the day after our last orientation session was the perfect way to re-energize, re-motivate, and re-inspire the runner in me. Why? Because it proved that I could still run a 10K. It provided an outlet for me to relax and release all the stress of 8 amazing (but long) orientation sessions in June. Lastly, I ran it with no goals or expectations for finishing time – making it my most relaxing race yet! I plan to keep this in mind as I plan for the future or experience other extra-busy life moments (month after comps? Let’s run a race!)

2013 Freedom Run with my Dad

2013 Freedom Run with my Dad

A little about the race: the Fun Fourth Freedom 10K is a Greensboro tradition. It takes place the Saturday before the Fourth of July, which is usually a really hot day. This year the temperatures were pleasant and mild at the start, but warmed up quickly as the race went on. This course starts in downtown Greensboro and takes the runners through neighborhoods, so most of it was in the shade. One of two hills I distinctly remember from the course was near the finish and the volunteers cheering us up that hill really helped me finish strong.

I hope that no matter your responsibilities you are finding ways to relax and reenergize this summer. Participating in a 10K, even with limited training, was the right activity for me. What works for you?

iPhone5 running armband review

As my running frequency increased so did my interest in logging my miles. 403 miles so far this year means I am already over my 250 mile goal for 2013!

Yes, I used to run with this in my hand? Thank you technology for the updated running companions

Can you believe I used to run with this CD player? Thank you technology for the updated running companions for music!

When I started out I used the Nike app on my iPod nano. This app logs miles by accelerometer so it is not a precise measure of distance.

Yes, it's RED! I love that the iPod Nano is small and clips right onto my shorts for a quick run with music

Yes, it’s RED! Just like the CD player. A common theme in my life. I love that the iPod Nano is small and clips right onto my shorts for a quick run with music

As I gained interest in logging miles via GPS, I started taking my phone on my longer runs. Nike+ added a feature in December 2012 allowing competitions between friends. I love competing with others in a friendly way for the most miles per month on Nike+!

I decided to write about phone armbands because I have had horrible luck finding a good one. Maybe this will help before you purchase one. Here are my thoughts on the various armbands I have tried this year (unknown, New Balance, and Tune Belt):

Armbands

From left to right, armband #1, armband #2, and armband #3

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Way too big! See those safety pins?

1) I don’t even know what brand this armband is because it was a gift from a friend. The funny thing is it did not fit on my arm. Yes…I have tiny arms. So I highly recommend checking the band size with your arm before purchasing one.

Broken screen on New Balance armband

Broken screen on New Balance armband

2) I bought armband #3 (New Balance brand) at Target one day desperate to have an arm band that actually fit my arm before going on trips to SROW and NASPA. Guess what? It only lasted 3 runs before breaking. This armband was flimsy and I do not recommend it.

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3) I currently use the TuneBelt brand and the box for this one is featured in the back of the picture. This armband works very well and fits my arm perfectly. My OtterBox does not fit, so I always have to take my OtterBox off before I run which can be a hassle. I worry about sweating through the fabric and often put my phone in a plastic bag to protect it from elements. If it was raining it would not be protected by just the armband.

Using my Tunebelt armband in DC!

Running with my Tunebelt armband in DC!

A GPS watch (it is about time to invest) is definitely on my wish list as well as an armband that fits my iPhone5 with its OtterBox. What do you think of your phone armband? Or do you have GPS watch suggestions? I need to do a lot of research before I purchase my watch!