Because I Can: Pittsburgh Marathon Highlights

Because I Can: Pittsburgh Marathon Highlights miaprimacasa.com

Has it already been two weeks since I crossed the finish line of the Pittsburgh Marathon? A lot has happened since then, including an amazing trip to Europe to visit my sister. I can’t wait to tell you all about our adventures in The Netherlands and Italy, but before I do, I want to share some highlights from my second full marathon.

I don’t think I’ve ever had more fun at a race, ever. I didn’t think things would pan out that way. This was the first race where no one was waiting for me at the finish line…and the first major race I wasn’t running with my sister. I figured I’d get the race done and move on to my next race (triathlon, maybe?), no big whoop. Except that right from the beginning I didn’t feel like I was running alone. My friends and family signed up for text alerts that let them know the second I crossed certain milestones in the race, my coworkers were running the half marathon and although they weren’t along side me for the race, it was a comfort to know they were there, and, of course, I was running with thousands of other people. No matter how many races I run, I will always be in awe of completing a single, grueling task with thousands of strangers. We were all there to do one thing: finish the race. It doesn’t matter how long it took us to get to that start line or what problems we had to face or why were really there at all. What matters is that we are there, pushing ourselves to our limit. And we aren’t doing it alone.

Endurance running can often be a long, lonely sport, but in the end, it’s the community that keeps me coming back to the start line.

“Why are we doing this again?” A young female runner next to me asked. I was standing in my coral with minutes to the start, talking with the only two veteran marathon runners I could find nearby (the coral was a mixture of half, relay, and full runners).

We all laughed. Amused at our own tenacity, courage, insanity, whatever.

“Because we can,” replied the middle-aged woman next to me. “I could be in a wheel chair right now. Or going through chemo therapy. But I’m not.”

And isn’t running for 26.2 miles straight the ultimate gesture of thankfulness? Thankfulness for our health, our self-discipline, our support.

Nope, endurance running isn’t lonely. Sure, I’m the one who gets the metal at the end, but if I could give one to every person who inspired and supported me through my journey to the finish (and the start), I would. Or even better, I’d ask them to go out and try for their own metal. No matter if it’s a 5k or an ultra, finishing a race is an experience you will never forget.

Cheers!

Sarah

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Two Hundred Miles

Two hundred miles. That’s how many miles I’ve run to get to the start line of tomorrow’s marathon. Two hundred.

At mile six, when I’m thinking, “Oh God, I’ve still got three and a half hours to go!” I’m going to think of those two hundred. At mile 17, when I wonder if I can make it the last nine, I’m going to remind myself of the those two hundred. At mile, 25, when 1.2 seems like it will never come, I have to think of those two hundred. Because 26.2 is nothing compared to all the work I’ve done to get here.

14 hours to go, guys! Keep me in your thoughts at 7am tomorrow!

p.s. I’m loving my race day outfit for marathon #2. Showing off some aerie pride!

Keepin' it real for race day! #aerie #aeriereal #marathon #26.2 miaprimcasa.com#aeriereal tank, Moving Comfort sports bra, Under Armour compression shorts, VSX fanny pack, Brooks Ghost running shoes, Balega compression socks, Nike visor, Stinger energy gels

Taper Time (& What I’m Eating)

It’s finally taper week for my marathon training! Woohoo! I love tapering (contrary to many endurance athletes who find it hard to cut back the miles) because I get to spend time really focusing on preparing mentally with yoga, meditation, and all around relaxation. Yesterday, I practiced yoga for an hour coupled with a half hour of mindfulness meditation, and I wen to bed feeling relaxed and in the present.

Vegan Fried Tofu, Broccoli, Kale Stir Fry miaprimcasa.com

Food is also really important for this final week. Per my coach’s suggestion, I’m sticking to higher protein dishes earlier in the week and adding on carbs, but not lots of calories, as the week goes on. Being vegan, I have to take extra care in ensuring my meals are high in protein. Yesterday, I created a delicious fried tofu, broccoli, and kale stir fry served over brown rice. This was my first time frying tofu, and I was thrilled with the outcome of the dish! Just perfect with a crispy outside and soft, flavorful middle. Learn some good techniques here.

Then, of course, I had to make vegan, sugar-free brownies for dessert. My own recipe! So, I’ll be sharing soon. 🙂

What’s your favorite high protein meal?

Cheers!

Sarah

 

Pirates, Sparkle, & 16 Miles

Easter in Pittsburgh miaprimcasa.com

Being away from family can be hard enough, but when holidays roll around it becomes that much harder. Thankfully, for Easter this year, my little sister was able to take a break from being a genius med student at RIT to spend the weekend with me here in Pittsburgh. The weather was perfect! And compared to Rochester, NY, it probably felt like heaven.

Pittsburgh- Oakland

Before Michelle made it down here on Saturday afternoon, I snuck in a 16 mile marathon taper run. Why am I tell you this? Because sometimes, when you’ve run over 20 miles in one go, you start to forget that even 16 miles is impressive. This is my attempt at reminding myself that running 16 miles (or any amount for that matter!) is an accomplishment–one of which I should always be proud!

Stay Classy (lots of sparkle included)

Sparkle was a key component of our Easter weekend attire.

Pirates Baseball Pittsburgh, PA

I took Michelle to her first professional baseball game. The Pirates lost, but it was an exciting game no less, complete with the classic Pittsburgh Pirates fireworks show. (By the way, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a professional baseball game that didn’t involve the Brewers. Seriously. I saw the Cubs play them in Chicago…then again in Milwaukee…and now they played the Pirates in my new city. It’s like my Wisconsin ancestors are trying to speak to me…)

Homemade Vegan Squash & Kale Pizzas miaprimacasa.com

Instead of the traditional Easter ham dinner, we opted for homemade squash pizzas, complete with kale, Brussels sprouts, and vegan cheese. Recipe (Michelle’s original) soon to follow!

Madewell fruit dress + Merino sweater + lots of sparkle miaprimacasa.com Springtime outfit miaprimcasa.com

My Easter outfit of choice: Madewell fruit dress, Lands’ End Canvas Merino sweater, vintage Salvatore Ferragamo heels, statement necklace (a great find from a Chicago second hand shop), and a gorgeous sparkly clutch (a gift from an old roommate). Michelle looked gorgeous in an Loft eyelet tee, J.crew cardigan, Ann Taylor pencil skirt, and sparkly J.crew flats.

Easer outfits

Hope you all had a fabulous Easter weekend as well! Here’s to more sunny days filled with Pirates, sparkle, and lots and lots of miles.

Cheers!

Sarah

One Does Not Simply (Run) Into Mordor

19 days and counting.

That’s a mere nineteen days until the Pittsburgh Marathon, when I will run (and admittedly, thanks to a persisting leg injury, walk) 26.2 miles. This will be my second full marathon, but the journey has been no less challenging and no less exhilarating. I completed a 20 mile run (!) this past weekend and will (THANK GOD) begin to taper starting this week. But don’t let that fool you, my taper includes a 16 mile run this weekend. 🙂

Well said, Boromir

But what’s running for four hours straight anyway? To those who have never experienced it, I like to describe it as no different that doing any one thing for hours on end. At a certain point you just keep going and going. You stop thinking about the action.

To me, it’s not unlike trying to read the complete Lord of the Rings trilogy in one sitting. At some point, eating and going to the bathroom become second priorities to finding out what happens to your beloved characters. Usually, you enjoy the ride, but at some point the battle scenes start to feel too long and your eyes begin to glaze over the lyrics to another one of Tolkein’s songs. But you just keep reading.

After all, Frodo throwing the ring into the firry pit is obviously the objective, but becoming a spectator to the battle of Helm’s Deep or a sighing over a smoldering love affair between Arwen and Aragorn or witnessing Frodo and Sam hiding among the rocks in Mordor FOR THE THOUSANDTH TIME was part of the journey. You can’t really get to Mordor without it.

Running to Mordor

Did I really just describe the marathon finish line as Mordor?!

Well, hell, it basically is. There’s just a lot more cheering and a lot less fire. But in the end, you sure do feel like you just saved the Shire.

Cheers!

Sarah

“It is a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt over so small a thing. Such a little thing.” 

Pain is Inevitable; Suffering is Optional: Staying Motivated Through Injury

How to Stay Motivated, Despite Injury #running #motivation #inspiration miaprimcasa.com

Imagine this: You’ve spent the last couple months studying for a tough exam. You enter the classroom, fully prepared, pencil in hand, water bottle at the corner of your desk, a fresh piece of college ruled paper in front of you. The professor gives the okay, and you’re off! You set your pencil to the page, when suddenly, CRACK, the lead breaks. Now imagine you don’t have access to a pencil sharpener, and this the only writing utensil you are allowed to use. Imagine also that you are a type-A student, who believes that the outcome of this exam is everything. It’s life or death.

If you can imagine that, you can understand a bit how an athlete feels when she’s injured weeks before her big race. Of course, injury is party of the game, part of the journey, and something many if not all amateur and professional athletes face in one way or another.

A couple months ago, I had to stop running due to a leg injury. I was smack in the middle of marathon training. And although this won’t be my first full marathon, the race is undoubtably important to me. My confidence was shattered. But then, I did what I do best, I made a plan. I’m no running expert, but I know the frustration of injury and the joy and pride of tackling your goals not just in spite of the pain but maybe also because of it. So below is my plan to keeping your motivation and confidence up through a tough training patch. I hope it inspires at least one athlete to keep her head up

How to Stay Motivated, Despite Injury #running #motivation #inspiration miaprimcasa.com

First of all, choose to view this “break” actively instead of passively. In other words, don’t think of your recovery time as a waste of time. Use it. Make the absolute most of it.

-Stay active. I understand that the thought of using an elliptical probably falls somewhere on the spectrum of watching grass grow and being stuck in the middle seat while flying coach. But staying active despite your injury is important. If you’re like me, as soon as you take exercise out of my routine, I become sluggish, start to eat poorly, and become less productive (due to a positive correlation between time on my couch and hours watching Netflix). Instead of thinking that your workouts are a poor second option to running, try to do something you’ve always been meaning to but maybe didn’t have a chance to before. For instance, I started going to yoga with friends. I’d been telling myself I wanted to do more yoga, and now I finally had the chance! It’s harder to feel depressed about not doing something, when you’re doing something else you love.

Eat&Run by Scott Jurek

-Read for inspiration. My suggestions: Born to Run, Eat & Run, Thrive, and Triathlete Magazine.

-Do more of what you love, and less of what you don’t. And I don’t mean just in terms of exercise. Remove stress where you can. I, for example, sometimes get a bit obsessive over cleaning my apartment. I suppose it’s because the end result is so satisfying and the process so straight-forward. Unlike, say, just about everything else in life. But I absolutely do not need to deep clean my apartment every day. Instead of spending that time doing something that, despite it’s clear result, feels like an obligation and an added stress, I try to do something I enjoy that isn’t necessarily required of me. Like sewing. Or even spending a few extra minutes petting my cat. When I do this, it always surprises me how much control I actually have over my stress.

How to Stay Motivated, Despite Injury #running #motivation #inspiration miaprimcasa.com

-Find your balance. Physically and mentally, I mean. Were there things in your life that you were missing out on during your training? Did you skip meditation in the morning so you could get a run in before work? Did you pass up invitations to go out to the bar with friends because you wanted to be fresh for the next morning’s twelve miler? Was (and is?) your mind so cluttered with anxiety about training and the race that you forget friend’s birthdays or catch yourself worrying during Monday business meetings? Relax, and take this time to catch up, and maybe even start to schedule a new routine around the stuff you’ve been neglecting.

Vegan Diet

-Focus on nutrition. Now is finally your chance to start paying better attention to what you’re eating! If you’re aren’t burning 1500+ calories on long runs every weekend, you don’t have the same excuse to stuff your face with any and every carb that you can get your hands on. Focus on quality foods. Explore new ways to gain energy or focus. When I was recovering, I used the opportunity to switch to a plant-based diet. When I was in the heat of my training, I was concerned that a plant-based diet would not provide the energy and protein I needed. But having time to experiment with recipes and new foods during my recovery ensured that I had a solid nutrition plan settled for when I was able to pick up the training again.

How to Stay Motivated, Despite Injury #running #motivation #inspiration miaprimcasa.com

-Remember your dreams and goals. Remember what you’re recovering for. Remember why you’re putting in the effort and time to get better and do better. And remember that injury and recovery is part of the game, just as much as crossing that finishline is.

Any other advise you would give a struggling or injured athlete? Or even a person who just needs some motivation to get started?

Cheers!

Sarah

p.s. This post is dedicated you, Michelle. I KNOW YOU CAN DO IT!

 

Grandma's Marathon

 

 Related Posts:

Best Advice I Can Think of for New Triathletes

Running Hard, Getting Healthy, and Going (Almost) Vegan

My First Marathon Highlights

Adventures in Plant-Based Nutrition