VIPing It with Cap City

It’s the eve of the big day in Columbus, Ohio. The Capital City Half Marathon, The Patrón Quarter Marathon and the Commit to Be Fit 5k are Officially SOLD OUT at a Cap of 13,000 athletes. There is the familiar buzz of anticipation, excitement and anxiety in the air around town and in the voices of the runners I have known for months now. It’s been building all week

Race Day is finally here! In less than 24 hours, the Lucky 13’s will have crossed the finish line of another half marathon as another session of MIT comes to a close. For many, it is their first half marathon and I couldn’t be more excited about being on the course to cheer for them. They’ve worked hard for this day since December. They’ve trained for months in wind, rain, cold, a little snow and even some warmer temperatures. I couldn’t be more proud of you and the accomplishments they have made. I have watched them conquer what once may have seemed like an impossible task – they’ve run the miles, shown up before the sunrise on Saturdays and kept up training during the week, even when they were feeling discouraged, down, ill or injured.

MIT 13-Min. Pace Group Winter/Spring Session 2012

During a race week, no matter where you are, it is very common to feel anxious and wound up in anticipation of race day.  It is important to relax, though. Worry and tension create fatigue and sometimes illness. So, I have been reminding the runners in our group to take some time this week to do whatever most relaxes them. I remember being completely terrified for my first half marathon, nearly unable to function (I’m really not kidding), but looking back there was no need to stress myself out so much. I followed the same training plan as them, and I made it through – it was the single greatest accomplishment of my life thus far. I have no doubts that the 13’s will also look back on their race with fond and proud memories. Believe in yourselves, ladies and gentleman – because I surely believe in you!

Remember these three things, if nothing else:
  1. HAVE FUN – I’ve had a blast with you on Saturdays so don’t stop enjoying yourselves now!
  2. RUN YOUR OWN RACE – We’re not in it to win it. Our victories come from achieving what others may have said we couldn’t, conquering our inner fears or accomplishing something amazing.
  3. HAVE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR TRAINING AND IN YOURSELF – You can do this. Myself and the other coaches have every confidence in you. You are prepared. You are ready. You will succeed!
All this being said – let the party begin! 😉

My co-coach and friend Judi and I hit the expo last night:

After all, who can refuse a great opportunity to SHOP for running gear?

Cool shirt commemorating the Bicentennial!
LOVE THIS! Front. 

And hang out with the best running friends ever?

Nita, Judi & Me

And I must day, Cap City does it right. The Diamond Cellar, yellow tail bubbles Sparkling Wine and New Balance provided a unique opportunity to upgrade your Capital City Half Marathon registration and get the total VIP experience! We were both grateful and ecstatic for the opportunity. I for one was not disappointed. It was so much fun.

The Total VIP Experience:

The New Balance VIP Official Cap City Jacket. Very nice – black with a sleek logo on the back.

Doesn’t Michael take lovely pictures of my back side?

Love the race shirt! It’s the city’s bicentennial. 

At the Cap City Celebration Lounge you receive the official Yellow Tail Sparkling Wine Flute with race logo that you may fill up as many times as you like during the Cap City Health & Fitness Expo. 

“Yes, Sara, Champagne does count as carb-loading!” – Judi
An invitation to the Champion Panel and VIP Reception from 6–8pm on Thursday, May 3 for the Official toast to kick off the 2012 Capital City Half Marathon.

Free race day parking.

Access to the VIP Tent with catered breakfast and lunch and private bathrooms.

Now that the day is almost here, I am sad I’m sad I have decided not to run tomorrow. With my knee injury, being sick for two weeks and just resuming physical therapy and training this week, I decided it would not be smart for me to run. I haven’t had a solid long run this season, no more than eight miles, and I just feel like I am extremely under-prepared for this race. NO MATTER HOW MUCH I WANT TO RUN, I SHOULD NOT. Please tell me I am doing the right thing. I’m pretty bummed, not running  is always hard to handle. Especially for me.

I will be on the course – start, middle and finish – tomorrow to cheer everyone on! I can’t wait. It’s the next best thing to running. 😉 Still, I will miss being out there with all of you who are running.  
Best of luck tomorrow, friends. Have fun, believe in yourself (I do!) and run your own race! I can’t wait to hear all about it. Run well, run strong, run safe and stay hydrated. Rest up. Tomorrow is going to be a great day! 🙂

Until the next mile marker,

USAF: Half Marathon #6!

Saturday’s completion of the Air Force Half Marathon marked my sixthhalf marathon to date. Wow. Who am I? Two years ago I would have never imagined I would run anything.
Remember this post? When I committed to running the Air Forcefull marathon? I said, “I do not really know how I am going to run another marathon at the present time. It kind of scares the crap out of me. The training was grueling, the miles were merciless, the reward was priceless.” Then I followed that up with, “When will my motivation come back?”
Yeah, um…well, okay, so I decided to actually run the half somewhere between my-knees-will-barely-let-me-walk-again-and-where-exactly-did-my-motivation-really-go-and-does-it-ever-plan-to-come-back!? I was bummed, I felt like a failure (again) and truthfully, if it weren’t for The Goofy, I would just take a big break from racing and say “Forget it” to the Air Force. All last week, I stillwasn’t sure if I was going to run the half or not, but Christina (go congratulate her, she just ran her first MARATHON!!) really motivated me to get my a$$ in gear and take it to Dayton – what’s the worst that could happen, I would have to walk some?
Friday I was fine all the way up until lunchtime when I had a full-blown panic attack. Five-thirty couldn’t come soon enough, I was already packed, I just needed to get to the Nutter Center in Fairborn before packet pick-up closed at 8:00 p.m. This included time for error and, Heaven forbid, getting lost. I was watching the clock and on the edge of my chair for hours. The only good thing that came of it was every time I looked at the clock, I took a gulp of water so I was more than well-hydrated for the race.
I weaseled my way out of work at 5:25 p.m. (hey, five minutes was critical for me at the time!) and drove to Fairborn. I made it there by about 6:45 p.m. You don’t want to know how fast I drove to get there – let’s just say it was fast enough, traffic was in my favor and it was really easy to get there. I think I made approximately two turns the whole way – on and off the interstate.
I made it to the Nutter Center just as the 5K was starting and the only line I had to wait in was to park (where I did in fact almost rear-end someone due to my shot nerves, sorry Dad). The Expo was not very crowded and the lines to get bib numbers was pretty much non-existent, although I could tell they had been prepared to (and did) handle thousands from the sheer size of the arena.

Nutter Center ready for hoards of runners!

Bib and goodies in hand, I breathed the first relaxed breath I had taken all day. It didn’t matter what happened from here on out – I would find my hotel and my MIT friends and if something happened and I couldn’t, I would sleep in my car in the parking lot and wait for the shuttles in the morning – that is how relieved I was to just have my number in hand.

2011 USAF shirt and hat!

I met up with Julie and Katie and Blake – some friends of mine from Race Club that I did not, in fact, know very well. Julie was kind enough to invite me to stay with them when she found out I was running too – I knew I was in good company regardless, but I was a little nervous about rooming with people I barely knew. After all, they are fast!

I did some looking around shopping at the Expo and scored some really cool things from One More Mile.

Arm Sleeves, Car magnet and Turtle socks!

I thought about my mom a lot while I was walking around by myself (not something I usually am at an Expo) and remembered all of the fun we had last year spectating at this race. My mom liked Expos, and I don’t think this one would have been any different. She would have been all about the arm warmers and the socks and probably would have bought the same. I wished she was there with me horribly. I was tearing up when I left the center and called my dad to let him know I got there safely. Late is better than never, I guess (Sorry, Dad! I could not even conceive of a phone call to anyone until I had my bib safely in my hand)! On to the hotel where I knew I would find friends and food to take my mind off how I was feeling.

I met up with Julie and Katie and Blake – some friends of mine from Race Club that I did not, in fact, know very well. Julie was kind enough to invite me to stay with them when she found out I was running too – I knew I was in good company regardless, but I was a little nervous about rooming with people I barely knew. After all, they were fast! 
And nervous too, just like me. They were all running the marathon. Julie was qualifying for Boston and Blake had never run more than six miles before now. I listened to them talk about PR’s and past races and race-day strategies while I inhaled (I hadn’t eaten since lunch and it was almost 9:30 now) dark red kidney beans, brown rice and vegetables. Packing my own food is the only way to go for me, from now on. I won’t eat out before a race again – even if I travel there, I would rather not take the risk of eating something different and having my stomach upset like the morning of the Pittsburgh Marathon. Why do I need dark red kidney beans before a big race? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is that they are like magic.  
We settled in for the night (late, I might add because I was asking Julie a thousand questions about running and we got to chatting), and I couldn’t fall asleep. When I did, I had one of those dreams where you are falling and I woke up violently when I thought I hit the ground. I was awake again, hoping I didn’t wake anyone else up too, when my eyes finally felt heavy and slammed shut. I swear five minutes later the nine alarms we set went off at 4:10 a.m.
Race Day! I was like a kid on Christmas morning, seriously. I had not been this excited for a race in a long time.

Me ready to race!

I jumped out of bed, we got ready, and I made some oatmeal (another smart choice) and ate that with a banana and orange Vitamin Water. We headed to the hotel lobby for a group picture with some more of the MIT crew in town.

MITers ready to race at the USAF Marathon!

I grabbed a breakfast to go from the hotel, which consisted of a small bagel with peanut butter, another banana and a granola bar. I hadn’t realized that it would be nearly three hours later until I would run (the full started an hour earlier than the half), and I knew I would need more food by then.  

We made it onto Wright Patterson AFB with plenty of time to spare – hit the bathrooms, gear check and relax for a few minutes – well, me for a few hours.

Julie, Katie & Me before the start of the race.
I met up with some very special Lucky 13’s! Kim, Kim and Laurel (my Goofy Partners in Crime!) were running their very first MARATHON!!
Kim, Laurel, Kim & Me

The full marathoners began their race, and I began my hour wait for the start of the half marathon. The only problem was – I was literally freezing. It was in the low 50’s, which was warmer than predicted, but after being in the air without the sun for two hours already, I was starting to shiver. I was at least thankful I thought to wear my new arm sleeves. All I could think to do was keep moving, but that only helped for a few minutes.
I was wondering around the start line when I heard a female voice nearly whisper, “Hey, pssst……over here, where it’s warm….” I looked around, but didn’t see anything so I assumed I must be hearing something. Then again, “Hey, hey, youover HERE!” And someone grabbed my ankle. I shrieked and looked down. I saw an arm coming out from underneath the overhang of a mobile pizza truck? I got down on my hands and knees and looked underneath it where I saw a set of eyes peering out at me and a bunch of other feet. I stuck my head underneath all the way and a girl extended her hand to me, “Come on in, you look like you are freezing, the exhaust from the truck is warm and there’s almost enough room to stand up under here.”
I smiled as she helped me under. It was warm and smelled like gas, but it was warm. Myself and the other four or so girls that were under there took turns standing right under the vent for about 45 minutes. Every once in a while, someone would poke their head under to see what we were doing, but it was too crammed under there to let anyone in until one of us left and another one got pulled in. Whoever you are that invited me into the warmth, thank you. I didn’t get her name because it was too loud to hear anything!
I left the comfort of the pizza truck with about 15 minutes to spare and another woman jumped in my place to warm up her freezing muscles. My back was sore from being hunched over for so long, but I was warm and just in time to see the parachute landing before the start of the half marathon. The sun was coming up, which meant it would warm up. 

I, thankfully, ran into Bill, another Lucky 13 and I could not contain my excitement. We were off and I was running! I stayed with Bill for about half a mile when I realized I was going too fast.
I knew this race was going to be hard for me due to not training properly, but I wanted to finish and finish running if I could. I slowed down, way down and decided if nothing else, I was going to enjoy the scenery, enjoyrunning in a place I never had and enjoy racing. Time be damned. I wanted to finish with a smile on my face.
I ran a lot, I walked some, and I felt better than I expected. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining and I was hot. My face, neck and shoulders are actually sunburned. I felt good running – I felt good racing. I smiled and waved to spectators and course support and cheered on the people running around me. I think I was having fun.
That’s not to say it wasn’t difficult. My mind and body felt great, but my cardio endurance is lacking compared to what it has been in the past. I was relieved to see my Dad and sister at Mile 9 because that meant I was almost done. I made it through most of miles 9 and 10 running.
I was even more relived to see them at the Finish Line!   


What kind of face is that?!
A running finish!

I was awarded my medal by Air Force brass that congratulated me and thanked me for running in the race. The medal is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
LOVE this medal!
I finished the USAF Half Marathon in exactly 3:24:00. Not my fastest time, but better than I expected, given the circumstances.
Dad & Me after the race.
Mollie & Me after the race.
If you have not run this race, you should! It was awesome – great course support (water, Gatorade, oranges, gel, first aid), well-organized, nice swag, awesome bling, easy travel accommodations, and not overly expensive. There is a 5K, 10K, Half and Full Marathon. Registration opens on 01/01/2012 and the race is on 09/15/2012. All events sell out relatively quickly so if you haven’t finalized your 2012 race schedule yet – consider this! 
Although this race was my worst time, this was one of my best races. And I don’t say that easily because I am very critical of myself. This race reminded me that I really do love running and racing and while I might be going through a rough training season, I needed a good race to pull me through. And, that good race did not necessarily have to be what I perceive as a good time. In many ways, it is very similar to how I felt after my fist half. I finished, and I am proud of that.

Until the next mile maker,


Keeping the Pace: Let the Good Times Roll

With tomorrow morning comes a new training session with MIT. New faces, new runners, new goals, new challenges, new triumphs and even new hardships. No more cold or snow (although it is Ohio), no more falling on the ice or shuffling along the trails like a Penguin with 96 layers of clothing on. Nope. It will be sun and summer and humidity and 109 + temperatures and sweating like dogs, for sure (unless you’re like me and you sweat like that anyway). We just figure out how to run in the winter and now we will figure out how to run in the summer – just in time for winter again. And there will be rain, of course, but it’s okay, you already survived 7 floods and a monsoon.


And, so it goes. A new adventure waiting, just around the corner. But who could ever forget the roller-coaster we just get off of? It was a splendid season riddled with joy and heartbreak – one that I will not soon (or ever) forget. It was my first season as a Pace Coach for the 13 minute mile group, and I can’t wait to do it again. While these past six months have been some of the worst in my entire life, they have also been some of the best. Thanks to you, Lucky 13’s, and your persistence, dedication, encouragement and perseverance. I have never been more proud to call myself a runner. The personal triumphs you succeeded in this season were astounding – many of you crossing the finish line of your first half marathon ever – after what was undoubtedly a tough training season. Not to mention, you triumphed as friends and teammates to help me get through a loss greater than any I have ever experienced before. When I wanted to quit, you were in fact the ones that kept me going.


From start to finish, your strides have taken you on a journey that you should be proud of. And whether you join us again on the trails tomorrow or next season or not at all – I hope you continue on the path you have found yourself on. Have faith and believe in yourself, because you are all wonderful, caring, inspirational people who have the power to succeed in your endeavors.


Just look at what you accomplished already –


Snow Runs with the Lucky 13’s…
Dark runs too …


A weekly dose of humor from our fearless leader, Duane…


Fun runs on the trails with friends…


Did I mention rainy runs?


An Expo party for the stars…


Remembering my mother when others forgot…


You made it to the Starting Line of Cap City…


With smiling faces …


And may have cried a little too …
And you finished Cap City …
You have the bling (and a picture) to prove it!
We met Bart Yasso ..

Through it all, you supported one another …


Here’s to a great season past and a new one to come!


Until the next mile marker,

Pittsburgh Part 1 of 3: The Important Part First

By now you probably know, I am a MARATHONER! I don’t think I’ve been so excited in all of my life (I think I said that after my first half, but now I feel like that again, only I ran a full). I have been smiling all day.
The Pittsburgh Marathon Race Report is going to be two parts (unless I get too excited and post it all tonight!). I have a lot to say and I want to take my time writing about my experience.
SO … I decided to get the important part out of the way first – the Expo! You know it’s all about the shirt and the swag and the pre-race-I-could-have-easily-spent-hundreds-of-dollars-there jitters. It was so much fun!
Pittsburgh was about a three hour drive from where I live and by the time we got downtown, I was more than ready to pick up my bib and packet. We got there about 3:30 p.m. or so and while I was certain I would have enough time to pick it up before the Expo closed at 6:00 p.m., the traffic into the city on a Saturday afternoon had me more nervous than I could handle. It felt like most of our time in the car was the last 30 miles of the trip! Columbus is never that crowded on a Saturday – even with our marathon!
My dad dropped Michael (husband) and I off outside the convention center since the line to park was out of control (I found out later is was because the pedestrian crosswalk crossed the street into the convention center garage and practically every car had to stop to let swarms of runners and their families across). With my confirmation ticket in hand – and after stopping to pee twice (yes, twice, it was kind of ridiculous) – I made it into the Expo and darted through the crowd to pick up my bib. The volunteer handed it to me and I remember clinging to it for dear life as I stopped to pick up my shirt and swag.
My bib:
My shirt:
I love the green shirt, but I really wish it was short sleeves so I could wear it this summer instead of having to wait for cooler temperatures in the fall.
The swag:
My Marathon backpack consisted of a sampling of edible goodies, some super-soft (and super-light) Nike socks, a water bottle, pen, blinking light (great for running in the dark, I’m sure!), and an Arctic Ease cold-therapy compression wrap (I hoped I wouldn’t need it).
Mollie (sister) and my dad joined us in the Expo and as soon as we were sure the boys were set to find something to do not shop – we hit the booths!
It was like a Sara’s runner’s paradise – running and shopping all mixed together under one roof with other people who were just as excited as we were!
We met up with Suzi (one of my MIT Lucky 13 buddies) and her family and made plans for a pasta dinner at Bravo after everyone got settled in the hotel.
After that, we the first thing I did was look for a short-sleeved race shirt. Dick’s Sporting Goods was the place to be (clearly, since they were the main sponsor). I found what I was looking for and it fit me perfectly – thanks Nike!
My not-so-official race shirt:
And, I found another shirt that I think will look cute with a pair of jeans this summer. Thanks to my sister for bearing with me through the selection and fitting process. It is made by thrive organics and was a bit pricey at $40 bucks for a T-shirt, but was really going on you only get one first marathon and now I really didn’t have the option to not finish!
Fun shirt front:
Fun shirt back:
Then we found the place where we went a little crazy and spent the most time – Lift Your Sole. IF YOU HAVE NOT CHECKED OUT THESE GEMS YOU NEED TO – NOW! They carry a wide variety of endurance, sport, motivational and inspirational jewelry and accessories that are very reasonably priced for the design and quality. My. New. Favorite. Place.
Of course I had to get something to remember my first 26.2! I liked the winged heart because it reminds me of so many things – my mother who is in Heaven now, my love for running and my wish to let my heart and soul soar in the race I was about to run. The heart is not all the way flat so it does appear to be flying. Plus, I wear a lot of silver and gold and this was just perfect to go with anything I was wearing!
Charm #1:
I also found the perfect pendant (on sale!) reminiscent of my mother’s favorite quote by John Bingham, The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” It says: 26.2 – COURAGE TO START – STRENGTH TO ENDURE – RESOLVE TO FINISH. Yup, I’d say that was pretty much everything that was about to happen to me in less than 24 hours.
Charm #2:
And then we found it while perusing the various charms and necklaces – a LUCKY 13 charm. I about choked. Mollie and I had a freak-out session right then and there with millions of people standing around. Mollie said the only three words that applicable: Meant to be. I almost called each of my Lucky 13’s to personally tell them of my discovery. I wonder if I can buy them in bulk? I still cannot believe my eyes when I look at it!
The find of the Century Charm #3:
I screamed wildly for Michael and my dad and after showing it to each of them, they responded with the characteristic manly, “Oh, cool” and “Oh, that’s nice.” Then my dad added, “Mom would have wanted you to have a charm.” My mom would have loved shopping at the Expo with us for sure!
After most of the day’s excitement died down, I called up Duane – my personal Pittsburgh/Marathon Coach and Idol (he picked the course, ran a marathon already and got me the best job in the world helping him Coach the 13 minute MIT Pace Group) – and we met Suzi and her family for dinner.
I was pretty nervous at dinner – there was some intense conversation, as you can see:
Mollie could barely handle the stress, herself:
 And just look what it did to Michael:
After dinner we all headed back to the hotel and I laid out all of my clothes and gear for the next morning. Michael had a small freak—pout over our alarm being set at 4:20 a.m., but he quickly got over it (I may have helped with a look) and he even tucked me into bed.
I slept on and off all night, I think. I kept drinking-and peeing-and drinking-and peeing. I was nervous and scared and excited all at once. I checked and rechecked and rechecked my alarm and then gave up and called in a wake-up call to the front desk just to be sure.
I laid awake in bed for awhile thinking about how I was actually more scared then I think I had ever been in my life. Then, I started thinking how I wouldn’t have the one person who always told me I could do it (her last email to me said, We have all the faith in the world in you that you will complete this goal that you have had for so long. You will succeed!!!!) and who always believed in me – my mom – by my side in the morning. I wanted so badly to see her when (well, if) I crossed the Finish Line.
I fell into a restless sleep praying and dreaming that when I did wake up in the morning it would all be a horrendous nightmare and my mom would be knocking at my door at 5:00 a.m. ready to take 279 pictures. I dreamed of her at the start line, even though my mind knew she wouldn’t actually be there.
Yet, I had no idea who I would find waiting for me as I began my journey to 26.2 miles in the morning…
Until the next mile marker (or until I can’t stand it anymore),