91 Thoughts During a Half Marathon I Didn’t Train For

This past weekend, I visited Verona, Italy.  I coordinated this trip so it fell on the same weekend as the Verona Marathon/Half Marathon/10k.  I had been planning on doing the 1/2 for many months…since before I even ventured over here to Italy.  I had training runs all planned out. But then, most of them didn’t happen for one reason or another.  I ran occasionally, maybe once a week, and usually around 3 or 4 miles with my longest run being 6….not at all prepared for 13.1 miles. And before I knew it, the day of my 10th half marathon was upon me and my brain was all over the place, unsure of what to do.

  1. I shouldn’t do it. I’ll just go visit the city sights
  2. Well I already paid for it so I should at least go pick up my race packet and free shirt
  3. Oh look, my name is on the wall with the other half marathoners!Verona Half Marathon
  4. Look at all the people! Ahh I miss running races.
  5. These are my people
  6. Wow, this is a nice race bib. They even put my country on here! I feel like an Olympian Jen Runs Verona
  7. Maybe I should run the race anyway and see what happens
  8. Let me Google this, I’m sure other people have run without training
  9. That was a bad idea.
  10. Cardiac arrest?! Cardiac arrest is a possibility if your heart is not trained for this
  11. Well, it’s not like I’ve just rolled off the couch. I have a little experience
  12. I’ll just run intervals. I’ll be ok.
  13. But what if I die here in Italy?
  14. Plus I am feeling a bit of a sore throat. What if I just make it worse?
  15. I’ll sleep on it and decide in the morning
  16. Ok I couldn’t sleep and am up early so I might as well stretch just in case
  17. I’ll just get dressed and head down to the start and then I will decide
  18. An old woman just passed me, looked at my race bib, and said “Brava!” I can’t let her down
  19. It’s a little chilly out this morning, it’s actually pretty good running weather.
  20. Ahhh! So many people!
  21. These are serious athletesVerona Marathon
  22. I think I am the only one wearing a cotton shirt
  23. I think I am the only American
  24. It would be sad if the only American decided not to run
  25. I wonder if I can switch to the 10k
  26. ‘Did Not Finish’ is better than ‘Did Not Start’
  27. I’ll just run as long as I can and then quit
  28. The race is about to start. I’d better get to the start line
  29. There are a lot more spectators than I thought there would be. That is kind of cool!
  30. Well, I think I’m in the correct corral, I can’t really tell.
  31. Oh! We’re moving! I’m really doing it! I’m running the world!
  32. Ok well, I haven’t really done it yet, but I’ve started
  33. I know I can make it at least 6 miles without any trouble
  34. Running on cobblestone streets is harder than I thought
  35. My nose is running already
  36. Juliet’s balcony is just down that road and to the right!
  37. Oooh! A vineyard!
  38. Oooh! A castle!
  39. Not as many spectators outside of the city center
  40. At least there are a lot of police and medics every ¼ mile or so…just in case of cardiac arrest
  41. Ok the 10k turns off up there. The ½ and full marathon keep straight
  42. What if I just take the 10k route and say I made a mistake?
  43. But the 10k runners don’t receive a medal
  44. But my bib does say half marathon on it. Maybe they’ll give me a medal anyway
  45. But I didn’t really EARN it. I’ll always know
  46. Ugh ok. Continuing forward
  47. Ooooh! A vineyard!
  48. I’m glad Verona is not very hillyVerona Half Marathon
  49. Ok halfway there!
  50. My nose is still running. I wonder if any of these police officers has a tissue
  51. How do you say “tissue” in Italian?
  52. Whatever, I’ll just keep using my sleeve
  53. Ok! Mile 8! Only 5 more to go!
  54. I’m getting tired now
  55. I can’t stop coughing
  56. Oh there is a van that says “servizio ritorno”…I could just get in there and they will drive me to the finish
  57. But then I still wouldn’t get the medal.
  58. I guess I’ll keep going
  59. Oooh! A vineyard!
  60. Ugh! My nose!!
  61. I definitely need to change my shirt as soon as possible.
  62. Why do these water stops serve tea?
  63. I would give anything for some Gatorade
  64. The 15k mark! Only 6k more to go.
  65. That’s just a little bit more than 3 miles. I can handle that.
  66. So if I can maintain a 10 min mile pace, I only have 30+ more minutes
  67. Which still wouldn’t be my worst half marathon time
  68. I wonder how many people are behind me?
  69. Ugh a photographer.
  70. He really should have been at the beginning of the race when I looked a little better
  71. Oooh vineyard!
  72. Ok if I just walk the rest of the way, I will still be able to make it before the 3 hour time limit.
  73. Oh people are watching. Gotta run
  74. Ooooh a castle!Verona Half Marathon
  75. I just realized I did not see a single spectator sign throughout this entire race.
  76. Maybe that’s an American thing?
  77. Keep. Going.
  78. *cough cough*
  79. I got this! Only 1 more mile!!
  80. WOW! All the spectators are still here!! Lining the streets!
  81. Everybody is cheering!!
  82. I can’t see the finish, but it must be close
  83. There it is!!!
  84. Yay! I did it!
  85. The announcer called my name AND pronounced it correctly!
  86. Give me that medal!
  87. I can’t feel my legs!
  88. Where are the post-race refreshments?
  89. I would do anything for a banana and water right now.
  90. For real, nothing?
  91. Oh well, I guess it’s time for me to take a selfie next to this ancient arena Jen Runs Verona

So, I ran the race, didn’t die, and got my medal.  My legs/knees hurt so badly the day after and I did, in fact, make my cold much worse by running.  I did not go to work the following day and stairs quickly became my worst enemy.  I would absolutely NOT recommend what I did to anyone.  But I’m pretty impressed with both my mental toughness and my healing capabilities, as my muscles were good as new 2 days later.  In the end, I am glad I did it and it was definitely a great way to see Verona!

~ Jen

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2015: New Year, Better Me.

People often start out their years proclaiming “New Year, New Me”.  But I don’t need to be “made new.”  I’m pretty excited about the direction I’ve been going over the past year (and then some).  This is a new year, but I’m continuing on improving the awesome me that already exists!!

Marathon Runner & Fitness CompetitorThere is no doubt that 2014 was pretty awesome.  I accomplished two HUGE fitness goals that I previously never even imagined I’d be involved in. In June, I finished my first marathon and in September, I completed my first fitness competition! Both required physical and mental strength that I never had to tap into before, and on some days of training, I wasn’t even sure it was there. But it was! I showed myself that I am a strong, capable and exciting woman and I have no plans to slow down in 2015!

Towards the end of the year, after my competition, I really began to slack off with this blog and on my running. In October and December I ran my 5th and 6th half marathons with barely any training. I absolutely do NOT recommend this, of course. But it has taught me the importance of training. I know mentally that I could get off my couch right now and complete a full marathon if I had to. But I wouldn’t do well and could possibly injure myself. My last two half marathons were the absolute worst times I’ve ever recorded. I still had fun, as I always do, and got a couple pretty sweet medals to add to the collection, but I know I can do better.

What’s the point of doing anything if you’re not doing you’re best?

So for 2015, I present my following goals, both fitness and personal.

2015 Goals

I’m still working on concrete plans for achieving these goals.  And I have a couple other big secret goals in the works for the coming year.  It is sure to be a year of adventure and determination!! Let’s go!!

~ Jen

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Miles to Go

If Ferris Bueller has taught me anything, it’s that life moves pretty fast.  The past few weeks have been full of so much awesomeness!! While I am really excited about everything, it hasn’t left much time for anything else….like updating this blog on a regular basis.  I’m still in the midst of marathon training.  The toughest part is yet to come though.  It is starting to become unknown territory.  My weekly long run is tomorrow.  It will be the longest I have ever run at one time. 14-15 miles on deck.  But I’m ready!  And I’m getting more and more excited for my full marathon in June!!

Quick recap of the past few awesome weeks…

First PlaceI ran a smaller St Patrick’s Day 5k…and for the first time ever, I took home a first place trophy!! First place in the 20-29 age group! The race started later in the day (10:30) so it was definitely hotter than I’m used to.  I took off sprinting at the start…which I generally try NOT to do.  I kept an eye out for women around me, trying to see which ones were around my age.  I made sure no woman that looked around my age passed me.  It was a lot of fun and ended with a free green beer.  I am definitely excited for next years!  In addition to my own win, my boss/coach/bff also placed first in his age group and my lovely friend Cindy placed 3rd in hers! It was definitely a really fun day and I got to wear some cool St. Patrick’s Day knee high socks.

4th Half MarathonJust one week after the St. Patrick’s race, I ran my 4th half marathon! It was a somewhat spontaneous race.  I wasn’t going to do it, but my coaches talked me into it.  Positive peer pressure.  I technically was scheduled to run 13 miles that day anyway, so I knew I could do it.  Race day got off to a rocky start though.  My tummy was not cooperating all morning. In addition, the traffic getting to the start line was backed up by the time we got there.   It took FOREVER to park and get myself together.  Then I heard it…the sound of hundreds of runners, coming towards me.  The race started without us!! We were still about 400 meters from the start line.  Thankfully, I was not pushing for a PR.  And my main goal for the day was just to get through my regular long run.  So instead of running for the start line in the opposite direction of these runners, I waited until it looked like I was around the 10/11 min mile runners…and jumped right in.  No pre-race warmup, minimal stretching. Definitely not ideal.  However, the race went well.  I ran the whole time (minus my gatorade stops).  It was cloudy, which helped keep the beating Florida sun and heat at bay.  I didn’t have a chip time, but my clock time was 2 hours 16 min.  Not my half marathon PR BUT it was a minute faster than the half I did the month before.  The best part of all though, once I got to the finish, I did NOT feel like I wanted to die.  I felt like I could’ve kept going….which made me even more excited for my first marathon in June!!

Beast Family

Since that half (two weeks ago) I haven’t really run that much.  No more than 4 miles at a time.  But when I do run, I love running with my Beast Family! They keep me going some days.  I know some of them look to me for running inspiration…but really, they all inspire me.  My runs have been faster than usual and a lot more fun!  I’m used to running alone.  But I’m finding it to be more motivating to run beside friends!

And, perhaps the coolest thing that has happened in the past few weeks was my first tattoo I got a week and a half ago!!! I’ve had the idea for this tattoo ever since I ran my first half marathon a year and a half ago.  It’s a line from Robert Frost’s poem, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.  It’s a poem that I’ve always loved, means a lot to me for various reasons, and is also running related.  To say I was nervous was an understatement.  Especially since I wanted it on my foot, a location I’ve heard that is not ideal as far as pain level is concerned.  But, as it turns out, it wasn’t that bad! It was definitely unpleasant, but not unbearable.  I had to take a few days off afterwards but everything is healing great! I don’t like wearing shoes anymore because I like looking at it.


There are a lot of exciting events coming up in the next couple months so stay tuned…including my first marathon in 57 days!! (but who’s counting?)

~ Jen

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Third Half Marathon= Complete!

Disney Princess Medal

Work has been CRAZY lately.  Working 13-14 hour days, planning and executing awesome events, etc.  I’m not complaining by any means…just means that when I get home from work, I typically just go right to bed.  This leaves Jen Runs the World on the back burner.  But regardless of my posting habits, I’m still focused on my goals of becoming a better, fitter me!

Waiting for the start!

On Saturday, after helping to host an awesome event for work, I drove straight to Orlando to prepare for the Disney Princess half marathon!! I got to the hotel around 9 and was asleep by 10pm.  The alarm went off at 3:30 Sunday morning.  I dragged myself out of bed and dressed in a vague interpretation of a Minnie Mouse “costume,” made some oatmeal, and was out the door by 4am.

Finding the start line was a small challenge.  There were swarms of people everywhere.  Well over 20,000 people participated in the race! But, runners are the friendliest people, I made a friend and we found the start line together. (Tammy, wherever you are, I hope your 1st half marathon was amazing!!)  Being that I was at Disney, even waiting for the race to start was entertaining.  There was a stage, announcers, Disney characters, even Miss America was there!  They found a woman in the crowd of runners and began a basic interview with her.  She said it was actually her birthday.  The Disney interviewer said they would do something special for her on her special day.  On the gigantic screen by the stage, a video played of her husband who is serving in Afghanistan, wishing her a happy birthday and awesome race. I definitely cried.  5am is too early for emotion.

IMAG7331The race finally started.  Fireworks went off as I went through the start line.  I knew going in that I was not going to set a PR.  I have not been training for speed.  I was just focused on having fun.  Around mile 3, I felt it.  I had to pee. Bad.  Port-a-potties were all throughout the course but I have NEVER had to stop to pee for any race.  As I said though, I was just running for fun…and a full bladder for 10 more miles would NOT be fun at all.  So I decided to stop.  This turned into a small ordeal.  I went to the first door that was green (i.e. vacant) and opened it to find a guy peeing who had forgotten to lock the door! Now, the sun had still not come up so I definitely didn’t see anything but it left me slightly flustered.  I quickly scurried into the next one, trying to make this unplanned stop as quick as possible.  However, this would not end up being the case.  As soon as I pulled my pants down, I heard something fall to the ground.  It took me a moment before I realized that my car key had fallen out of my pants pocket!! So, in this dark port a potty, I took my phone out of my arm band to use the light to look for it on the ground.  I found it quickly enough and in my excitement to get this show on the road, I lost the grip on my phone, nearly dropping into the black hole of I-don’t-want-to-know.  I finally got it together, but that definitely set me back more than I would’ve liked.

I didn't want to stop for the it turned out very blurry

I didn’t want to stop for the picture…so it turned out pretty blurry

My favorite part of the race was running through Magic Kingdom.  Cheering spectators lined the streets of Main Street USA, giving me an extra boost at the halfway point.  I ran through Cinderella’s Castle with photographers snapping photos from all angles….there was even one laying on his back on the ground! Lines formed at various points on the course for character photo ops.  I didn’t stop for any this time.  I set in my mind that I would only stop if I saw Beast to get a cool pic with me in my Beast Athletics shirt.  But alas, he was not around.

I crossed the finish line after 2 hours and 17 minutes.  While it was my worst half marathon time, I still finished in the top 10%, had a great time, and got a pretty sweet medal.  After my first half, my very first thought was “I’m never doing THAT again” and my second was “I don’t understand how that is half of anything.” This time when I crossed the finish I thought “I can’t wait till my first full marathon in June”

I’ve come a long way, for sure.  From not even being able to run an easy 400 meters to now having completed 3 half marathons, I am so proud of myself.  Anything really is possible if you refuse to give up!! 3 Half Marathons!

~ Jen

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Hello, 2014!

Christmas and New Year’s went by too fast! I didn’t even have time to put ornaments on my Christmas tree! This is not an exaggeration by any means…my Christmas tree is still sitting in the corner of my living room…with lights and not a single ornament. Between my two jobs, working out, and holiday social gatherings, I don’t know how I managed to stay sane!

rockrollmarathonThere is no “new year, new me” situation going on for my 2014.  I don’t need to be new.  I will just continue to get better!   It’s only 5 days into the new year and exciting things are already happening! I’m decreasing my hours at the job I don’t really like, getting A LOT of work done at the job I love (at my gym), and probably the biggest thing that’s happened is my commitment to finally running my first marathon!!!

I ran my first 5k in Feb 2012, my first 10k May 2012, and my first half Nov 2012.  When I finished that first half, I said to myself “I can’t believe this is half of anything. I will be perfectly content never running a full marathon.”  Of course, you should never say never.  Fast forward to Jan 2nd 2014 went I was excited/nervous/terrified/ecstatic about pressing the confirm button on my marathon registration.  But in 146 days I will be in San Diego for the Rock N Roll Marathon!

Before I can focus too much on that though, I have my 3rd half marathon (Disney Princess) coming up at the end of February! I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out which Princess I should dress up as for my big run.  Ariel and Aurora topped my original list…but I finally came to a decision.  I want to be the original Disney Princess….Minnie!! Any easy costume suggestions will be much appreciated!!


5milesToday was my first long training run for the Princess Half…it was very slow. Probably the slowest I’ve gone in quite some time. But that was actually the plan.  With all of my weight lifting, high intensity WODs, and one on one hamstring/hip related strength training, injury is not an option.  My runs are now my relaxing “me” time…covering the distance without much intensity.   I’m trying something new so we’ll see how it goes.

~ Jen

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