marathon trainig

Today’s 20-mile run was awesome. Awesome in that I finished and didn’t die.

See?IMG_5328Met my friends Janet and Ellen at 6 a.m. at our local running store, Playmakers, for 6 miles before our team run at 7:30. It was super dark and I was grateful that Ellen thought to bring a flashlight and that Janet paid attention and got us out and back in time to join the group.

By the time 300 runners got in and out of the bathroom (especially the women who had to share two stalls and stood in a line 12 deep), we started a bit later than planned. We traveled through a neighborhood of beautiful homes with lots of flat road and by the river on the Michigan State University campus.

Playmakers loaded us up with water and Gatorade at aid stations every two miles. I downed as much as I could without drowning myself. I also ate SportBeans every five miles or so.

Speaking of water, it also rained for a couple of hours straight. It wasn’t too bad and I was glad to finish without any blisters or chaffing spots (thank you SmartWool socks and Skirt Sports gear!).

As with a lot of runs, we got separated from Ellen, picked up another group of friends and ended with my friend and neighbor Winona. We went out five miles and back, so I had 16 by chica with janet after 20That meant going back out by myself for the last four. With no music or Audible books because I, ahem, forgot my headphones despite laying everything out last night next to my bed (mental note to create a check-off list before race day). I ran back the way we came to the first aid station, chatted with a couple of friends who gave me enough encouragement to get back for the last two — virgin — miles.IMG_5319I won’t say they were glorious, but they weren’t too bad. I didn’t have too much gas in the tank when I was done, so I had a few minutes’ worth of self doubt, then reminded myself that the crowds and, I hope, friendly faces will get me through the last 10k on race day.

All in all, a successful 20 miles in the books. Now on to the taper, which hasn’t been my favorite thing in the past.

What’s your longest distance? Do you have any tips for this tapering chica?

NOTE: I am a Skirt Sports ambassador captain, but I was not compensated for this post. All views are my own.

Bestest finds of the week

by lachicaruns on

Marathon training

With just over three weeks to my marathon, I’m a little obsessed (shocking, I know) with any and all tips on how to get to the finish line.

Loving this piece on how to avoid hitting the wall.

And since I missed a few runs over the months I’ve been training, I was relieved to read that there is some flexibility with training plans. Vanessa Junkin‘s piece also on reminds readers that they shouldn’t skip their long runs, as they simulate race-day distance and get you ready for the full 26.2.

Saving for later

I haven’t even gone running for 20 miles, but I can’t help but think about other marathons I may run … someday.

Just in case, I’m keeping this Runner’s World list handy. That said, it’s gonna have to be one where I don’t have to run fast enough to qualify, so the list immediately shrinks for me.

Containers galore, some offering fruit protection

My friend Janet and I have been trying to eat better the past few weeks, packing our lunches ahead of time and making better choices.

It’s gone pretty well for the most part. However, we’ve both had some salad dressing leaks and other container fails.

So this piece by Stephanie Lee on came in handy as it features different containers to help with food prep and food transport.

I should note that the piece highlights the infamous Banana Bunker. If you’ve not seen the Groupon Facebook exchanges about the Banana Bunker, you really should take a minute or two to check them out.

Got any tips for a marathon virgin? What’s your favorite container for packing left-overs for lunch?




To say it was hot in Arizona would be the year’s biggest understatement. To say that I melted during my one pathetic run would be the year’s second.
That said, my five-miler through the University of Arizona campus in Tucson was glorious. What’s not to like?
The route from the Aloft Tucson University hotel on Speedway Boulevard took me through sidewalks that wander into the university’s grassy mall, which runs east to west on University Boulevard and is flanked by red-brick-adorned buildings.
 I spotted a group of ROTC recruits exercising on the grass, looking rather fresh despite temperatures in the 80s at 6 a.m. on a Friday. I was starting to question my Puerto Rican street cred.
I sipped my water, wiped my brow with an already-soaked tissue and kept on running.
University circles around the Old Main building, so called because it was the original University Building constructed in 1891. The building is sunk six feet below the surface to help keep it cooler and still features a porch and patio with a water fountain.
 I made my way through the businesses that cater to the U of A community, including the No Anchioves pizza place we visited the night before (yum!) and into the neighborhood beyond.
The houses here are small by Michigan standards with little to no grass but with a surprising amount of greenery, including cactus and what looked like yucca, but not much to provide any shade.
IMG_5177 IMG_5174 IMG_5179
 There was a surprising number of people walking panting dogs and a few runners who didn’t look like they were going to die.
I ran until railroad tracks stopped my progress, turned around and repeated the trying-not-to-die-from-the-heat shuffle the way I came.
IMG_5197 IMG_5198
 The pretty scenery, blue skies and friendly people made the run enjoyable. Unfortunately, I didn’t get back out because I flew out mid-day Saturday and I hadn’t yet completely emptied my wallet at the local Target, so we went back to thoroughly wipe out my checking account.
I came back to Michigan to find overnight temperatures in the 50s, perfect for running, but I would trade them in a heartbeat for Tucson’s sunny climes.

How do you adapt to running in a different climate? Would you rather run in the heat or cold?

advice for your first marathon

Mention to another runner that you’re running your first marathon and prepare for the gleam in their eyes and to be peppered with advice. Everything from what to eat to what to wear to what training plan you should follow.

(And, yes, I realize that that’s exactly what I do here on this blog.)

But today I want to share the best advice I’ve been given by people who have a ton more experience than me:

1. Don’t wear anything new on race day. New clothes, socks, shoes, headphones are all no-nos. Just today I heard a story from a very-experienced runner who told of wearing a new tech shirt only to get bloody nipples at a marathon. Wear your race-day outfit several times during long runs and in different types of weather. Adjust as necessary.

2. Don’t eat anything new on race-day morning. Just like any clothes or gear, try out different breakfasts before long runs. As I’ve mentioned before, I frequently feast on Dunkin Donuts before long runs. A few weeks ago, I went all healthy with whole-wheat waffles and had to turn around after I’d left the house because they just didn’t sit well. Donuts it is!

3. Similar rule for the night before. Don’t carb-load yourself into eating so much rich food that you make yourself sick. Stick with what you’ve been eating throughout your training before those long runs.

4. Same with fuel and liquids. Notice a trend here? Train with what will be offered during the course, or what you plan to bring with you. It may be tempting to try the new stuff you got at the expo the day before. Don’t.

5. Make sure your shoes are up to the challenge. Different people have given me advice about whether I should run the race with the shoes I’ve trained with or new ones. I went with the advice I heard most consistently and that also came from the expert who makes my custom orthodics: Get a new pair and break them in at least a month or two before the race.

6. Choose a meeting place beforehand to catch up with family/friends after the race in case you get separated. Depending on who they are, try the beer tent or the aid station.

7. Make a list of every single thing you need on race day. Yes, everything. I’ve heard of very experienced runners who’ve forgotten shorts, shoes and bras. No joke. And check off each item as you pack or wear it. Better yet, lay it all out the night before. You can even take a picture of your flat self and share it with your running friends who’ll be excited for you.

8. Thou shall lube up. Think of any spot that may possibly chafe and put some Body Glide or other lube on it. A bra I’d worn many times failed me on a long run. I found out when I went to shower that afternoon. Ouchie.

9. Be creative. Race-day may be hot, cold, wet, dry and anything in between. Your running partner may get food poisoning or be late to the starting time. Your iPod or smart phone may die. You get my drift. So practice running in all kids of weather, with and without your friends, with and without music and in any other situation you might encounter (hills anyone?). This way, no matter what, you’ll know you can push through it.

10. Have fun. You’re never going to have another fist marathon. If you want to wear the pink tutu, go for it (I suggest you wear it on a long run or two beforehand; just sayin’). If you want to take pictures, go for it (but check behind you before you stop to do so!). And if you want to stop to post progress reports on Facebook, well, then you may need to take this whole running thing a little more seriously. But do try to enjoy the experience.

And if something doesn’t work out as planned, just think, you’ll have one piece of advice for the newbie runner you get paired up with during your next group run.

Have you ever run a marathon? Any sage advice for newbies? What’s the best race-related advice you’ve received?

If you’ve not run a team marathon, go grab a few friends and sign up for one. Trust me on this one.

In Lansing, it doesn’t get better than the Lake Lansing Team Marathon put on by Playmakers. Teams of women, men and both can race 26.2 in increments of about 5 miles in this case, around Lake Lansing. Individuals can also sign up to run one loop.

Why am I so enthusiastic about team marathons? Let me show you…

There’s running, of course:

lachica lake lansing in action

Sometimes with beautiful views:

lachica lake view

And hanging out with some of your favorite people:

lachica lake lansing team lachica with Angela

Plus, if you’re hanging out with Black Girls RUN! teammates, there’s lots of food:

lachica spread

You can eat All. The. Food.:

lachica brandess and shannon

And you get marathon swag!

lachica marathon swag

But the real reason is the feeling of accomplishment when you get to see so many of the people you’ve trained with for so many months cross the finish line.

lachica team picture

Disclosure: A couple of years ago, I ran a team marathon that wasn’t nearly as enjoyable mostly because we took school buses to each relay exchange zone. It was cold, uncomfortable and I had to wait for hours with a bunch of strangers.

Part of Lake Lansing Team Relay’s charm is that all teams begin and end at the same spot so you can comfortably wait for your teammates, cheer them to the finish line and take lots of pictures.

It’s definitely on my must-do list for next year.

Have you ever done a team marathon? What are some tips for someone considering a team marathon?