City of Oaks Half Marathon 2015

I tried to fit all of this into an Instagram caption…but it just wasn’t working out.  So here is the race report I’ve been looking forward to writing for the better part of 3 years.  This morning I ran the City of Oaks Half Marathon in Raleigh, NC.  The last time I trained for, and completed, a race was July 2013, when I ran/crawled the Grandfather Mountain Marathon.


Backstory: I qualified for Boston 2014 at the Baltimore Running Festival in 2012. I was in the best shape of my life and I remember it being effortless.  I crossed the finish line in 3:29:17 full of life (this is how I remember it). 20 days before Boston 2014, after a year of unsuccessful training, stomach aches and injuries galore, I got the results of an MRI that revealed a femoral shaft stress fracture.  I watched Boston on crutches and dreamed of crossing that finish line.  Little did I know, 2014 had a few more plot twists in store for me.  Two more stress fractures and lots of stomach aches later, in October, I found out gluten was not for me.  I quit running, and focused on trying to figure out a life without beer, bread and pasta.  I was fortunate to go to Australia for 28 days around Christmas, I exercised 4 times while I was there, rested, explored, and ate gluten free and vegan with two of my best friends in the world (Laci and Auryn, forever grateful for you two).  I came back feeling out of shape, but healthy, happy and ready to rock my second semester of grad school. Around Feb. 14th 2015 I started walk/running a couple miles 6x/week on a treadmill and doing glute/core activation exercises.  Running became what it always should be for recreational runners- a stress reliever and my favorite part of my day.  Most of mileage was done facing a corner in my parents bedroom on their treadmill and I loved every second of my 20 minute walk/runs in that corner.  They soon turned into 3 mile runs, 5 mile runs, 20 mile weeks and somewhere around May I thought – what if I trained for a race this fall? My coworker and friend, Will, wrote me a training plan and mid July I was on it.  I ran MULTIPLE 50+ mile weeks this fall and totally fell in love with running all over again.  I loved every second of every run I did in the past 10 months…and holy cow…I never got one stress fracture!!!!!

Today’s Half Marathon:

I pushed my race up one week because one of my best friends from high school is getting married this Friday, and the idea of trying to run a half after dancing my butt off in heels seemed unrealistic.  I had been planning on the flat, fast outer banks half marathon. So, last weekend I signed up for the hilly, hilly….HILLY City of Oaks Half Marathon in Raleigh, NC.  This week I slept lots, ate lots of gluten free carbs (mostly for the fun of it) and foam rolled my legs like there was no tomorrow.  Shout out to Sweet Note Bagels…gluten free, egg free (top 8 allergen free) bagels, I had a plain one with PB, honey and banana at 4am this morning and it hit the spot.  I also ate about 8 of them this week, yum. I rested, and I soaked up the fact that I ran for 10 months this year healthy, and happy.  I was lucky enough to have a friend running with me (Rachel, you’re a beast!) and to say I was nervous at the start would be an understatement.  I started off right around my goal pace (7:00-7:10 min/mi) and managed to keep it there for about 5 miles…and thats when those Raleigh hills started up.  I have done most of my running this year on a treadmill (I am now a full fledged treadmill lover, judge me) or on the ATT.  I was really not prepared for some hills.  So I took a little assessment of how heavy my legs felt, stopped looking at my watch and ran the last 8ish miles with no cares about pace, waving to familiar faces, walking at water stations and thinking…next time…lets run some hills. The last mile of my race felt pretty fast…probably at 7:30 or so? And I think I ran around 1:42:00.  Not a PR, but damn did it feel good to cross a finish line, hobble to the car, and go home and make some gluten, egg free pumpkin waffles with a side of bacon with my mom.

Gluten & Egg free post race breakfast
Gluten & Egg free post race breakfast

Was it my dream PR hitting gloriously pain free half marathon? Definitely not. But aside from qualifying for Boston it was the best race I’ve ever had.  To think this time last year I was running 0mi/week and today I ran a half marathon. It’s been the most amazing year and I wouldn’t change a thing.  I had more fun being hurt and out shape than I ever thought I would have. I am so grateful for that experience.  Being injured, and sick reminded me that running is supposed to be FUN, and we are lucky to be able to run even one mile.  It’s supposed to be a way to relieve stress, not create it and that no run, no race, no missed PR should ever make us feel anything but amazing.

I am hesitant to make future plans, but I would LOVE to run the Wrightsville Beach Full this spring and qualify for Boston, again.  If you made it this far, thanks for reading, and for cheering me on for the past few years.

“If I quit now I will soon be back to where I started, and when I started, I desperately wanted to be where I am now.”

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