Half Marathon Training with a Teenager

Last year, my then 12 year old son said he'd like to run a half marathon.  I thought he was just being funny or talking in the distant future, but no.  He was serious and insisted on it.  We researched some races and talked some more about it.  I gave him the good and the bad, but honestly, mostly the bad because I wanted to paint a truthful picture and the truth is that training for a half marathon is not easy.  He acknowledged that it was going to be hard work, but that he really wanted to challenge himself and run his first half marathon at the age of 13.  So, we did it.  We signed up for the Cedar City Half Marathon on September 8, 2018.  I explained that he would be training for a half marathon all through summer break and even into his first weeks of back to school but he was not deterred. 

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While he was still in school, we started with 2 mile once a week runs.  Then, last month, we started the actual 14-week training plan and he's been training pretty consistently for the past 6 weeks.  We have 8 more weeks to go and I couldn't be prouder of this kid! But please, don't get me wrong.  He is no super kid.  He is after all, a 13 year old boy and oh have we had our arguments.  It's been hard being mom and coach.  I feel like because it's been me giving him running advice, it's been hard for him to accept it and we butt heads a lot.  He's cranky at 6am and when I remind him that he signed up for this on his own, I get attitude.  I then have to remember he is still just a 13 year old kid and take a deep breath.    

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It's been hard, but it's also been rewarding.  I've been learning to be patient and let things go.  I'm learning to go at his pace and enjoy our time together regardless of our pace and whether I think he could do better or go faster.  I remind myself that I just ran my first half marathon 5 years ago at the age of 36! This kid is 13 and about to run his first half marathon.  I am so proud of him already! I'm not too mushy or sentimental, but I did cry after my 1st half marathon and after my 1st full marathon.  I'm pretty sure I will cry for the 3rd time again after I cross the finish line with my son in September.  But until then, there will most definitely be more cranky early mornings and arguments, and I'll just have to be ok with that.

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What races are you training for this summer? Any tips on running with a teen? EEK!! 

Seven Tips for Making the Most of Your Next Racecation

What exactly is a "racecation"? Well, it's a race + vacation in one! I love to travel and I love to run races, so racecations are the best of both worlds for me!  For others, it could be a dream race they've had on their bucket list or part of their goal to race in every state.  Whatever your reasons, if you're traveling for a race, I say bring the family, stay a few extra days and make it a vacation! 

I've traveled to quite a few races and with a little planning it is totally possible to run a great race and enjoy the sights!  Here are my Top 7 Tips for planning your next racecation!

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1. Plan Ahead. This may seem obvious, but it's important to note.  Make sure to check out all the race details and final emails for any transportation logistics, last minute changes, and any race add-ons, such as carb loading dinners, seminars, or VIP Packages.  Some of these can sell out, so be sure to sign up early if you plan to take advantage of them.  It's best to print any waivers or forms beforehand, so you don't waste time once you're there.  Believe me, your family will thank you for it. Some race sponsors also offer discounts or deals to race participants, so it's good to go to the race website and see what's available.  I've found great prices on hotels and even a good deal on a city tour in Seattle this way!  Also, know where the expo is being held! Sometimes it's at the start/finish but other times, it could be in a completely different area, so map it out and know where you're going! 

2. Book a Nearby Hotel.  Like I just mentioned, most races will have a list of recommended lodging and they may even offer a discount to racers.  I'd check these out first, but if they are no longer available, as these do tend to book up soon, look for other nearby hotels. It's up to you if you prefer to be near the start or finish line and it may also depend on what you'll be using for transportation.  A lot of races do offer buses to the start line from specific locations.  Personally, for my racecations, we'll book a hotel near the finish line, so my family can easily meet me with me afterwards and they don't have to ride in the car with stinky mom for too long! 

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Use Eagle Creek Pack-It Sport Cube. This post in not sponsored by Eagle Creek, I just really love their products.  As a Rock N Roll Marathon ambassador, I was given a Sport Tote to try out and I really liked it. Then, when I saw their booth at one of the expos, I purchased the Pack-It Sport Cube and it's since been with me for every overnight race and racecation! I pack everything I need for race day in it: sneakers, Garmin, hat, top, bottoms, socks, sport bra, undies, glide, gels, Nuun! Even a change of clothes for after the race! Basically, if I need it for race day, it's going in that cube.  It keeps me organized and I love knowing that it's all together.  Plus, the cube is small enough and fits nicely in my suitcase.  I highly recommend them to everyone!! 

Don't Arrive Too Early.  I've learned from experience that it's best to run your race and then start your vacation, not the other way around.  Leaving the race for the end or even the middle of your trip may give you added stress and who needs that!  You'll possibly worry about things like getting enough sleep or worry about walking too much and running on tired legs.  You may even have to plan a short training run.  There's also things like your diet to consider and let's be honest, we all like to indulge a bit while on vacation, right? I've noticed that the best time to arrive is 1-2 days before your race.  I prefer to arrive the morning before the race.  This gives me enough time to visit the expo, pick up my race big, settle into our hotel room, grab dinner, and have an early bedtime.  However, if you'll be traveling to a different time zone and will experience some jet lag, then plan to arrive 2 days early and use that day in between to relax and acclimate to the time change. 

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Stick to your Pre-Race Routine. When we're traveling, we tend to go on hyper-mode and want to do and see everything! I speak from experience! Since most races are super early in the morning, you'll want to be sure to get to bed early.  Then, stick to your morning routine as much as possible.  I always make sure to get my go-to race day breakfast of a banana and a Justin's almond butter packet the night before. I also lay everything out the night before, so I can just go into auto-pilot and get dressed, grab my things and go.  It's usually to early for me to think straight, so doing it the night before gives me peace of mind on race day!

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Use Waze.  This one only applies if you'll be driving to your race.  If so, then rather than using Google Maps, I suggest using the Waze app.  It's free to download and since it's crowd sourced, the road closures due to the race will show up and it will give you better routes to take.  It's been really helpful for us!

Enjoy the Race. Most of us who plan racecations do so because it's a new city or new place we want to explore.  Running through a city or park we've never been to is exciting, so don't forget to look around.  Don't get so focused on just running the race and watching your pace that you forget to look around and take in the new scenery.  This was probably the reason you signed up for the race to begin with! Enjoy the race and scenery and think of all the fun you'll be having after your race is done! You'll get to see and visit new places because running got you there!  And, that is pretty cool! 

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Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon Race Weekend

Last month I ran the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon and although it was one of my slowest half marathons to date, our weekend in wine country was amazingly fun and a much needed summer getaway! This post is much more about the weekend than the race itself! OOPSY!

We have some really good friends who flew out with us to show their support of my running and cheer me on during the race! HAHAH Who am I kidding, they came along for the wine tasting!! Either way, it was so much fun having another couple to enjoy the weekend with.  We arrived to San Francisco Friday just in time for lunch! We picked up the rental car and made our way to Francis Coppola's  Cafe Zoetrope  for lunch. Such a nice treat! Afterwards we walked around Chinatown and couldn't resist picking up some steamed dumplings and sticky buns at our friend's favorite spot! We took the food to go and seriously enjoyed them during our long drive in traffic up to Napa.  

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Saturday morning we went straight to packet pickup right when it opened at 10am.  The location was so pretty and it was a nice expo with some good vendors who handed out some nice samples ;) That's always a plus! Once I had my bib + shirt and my fair share of samples, we were off to do some wine tasting! 

Our first stop was our favorite winery, which we are also wine club members, Benzinger Winery. They use bio dynamic and organic farming, which is such an interesting process and we learned so much more about their history and sustainable farming practices during the tour.  Afterwards we enjoyed wine tasting in their private members only tasting room.  We lost track of time chatting and tasting, but our tummies soon let us know it was time to eat, so we bought a bottle of wine and found a nice picnic table with some shade to enjoy the snacks we had purchased earlier.  Had the weather been just about 10 degrees cooler, it would have been perfection!

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Our next stop was their sister winery, Imagery Estate Winery, which was such a cool artsy place and the grounds are beautiful!  It was packed inside because it was just way too hot to be sitting outside by then, but we found a nice spot in the members only area and enjoyed a bit more wine tasting and fun conversation.  

The last stop before dinner was Domaine Carneros! I absolutely love bubbly wines and pinot noir so I'd been looking forward to this visit for a while. Plus, the grounds were so pretty! We ended up sitting outside and again if only it had been 10 degrees cooler, it would have been so dreamy! The view of the vineyards from the terrace were beautiful and the flights of champagne were super yummy! By this point in the day, we were really getting hungry so we ordered a small charcuterie plate to enjoy while we finished our flights.  Thank you so our server who recommended the best place for us to grab a casual, yet delicious dinner, which of course included lots of water and my go-to pre-race meal of...PIZZA!!

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Unfortunately, for as much as I tried to stay hydrated during wine tasting on Saturday, it was still not enough! I started off ok.  I wasn't going for any PR or anything, but I was hoping the idea of another fun-filled wine tasting day would be enough to make my legs go fast! The race course was beautiful and running alongside rows and rows of vineyards was amazing.  The weather was unseasonably warm and I soon started struggling with the heat and the sun beating down on me.  After I saw the hubs and friends at mile 7ish I got some renewed energy and I was doing good and keeping a nice pace till about mile 9 or so.  At that point my calves started to feel super tight and by mile 10 they were cramping terrible.  I was dehydrated and in pain! I managed to pull through, but I had to slow down and even walk those last 3 miles.  I felt bad and was so disappointed in myself.  After I limped my way across the finish line, I chugged some coconut water and stretched my legs as best I could.  I met up with the hubs and our friends, plus some running friends from Vegas who ran the race too and together we grabbed our wine glasses for post-race wine tasting festival! Soon enough, my pain was gone and I was back to feeling great! lol 

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After the race, it was back to the room to shower and get ready for round 2! We visited my hubby's favorite winery, Sequoia Grove.  Talk about another good time tasting, laughing, and making new friends! Afterwards we had some time to kill before our dinner reservations at Ad Hoc, so what else is someone to do while in Napa waiting? We found a wine bar, enjoyed another charcuterie platter and waited patiently ;) Dinner at Ad Hoc was amazing! Thomas Keller's take on family style casual dinning was spot on. We just wish we would have had more room to fit more food in our bellies!! 

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The next day we started our trip back to San Francisco! We spent some time walking around Fisherman's Wharf and enjoyed some clam chowder and some delicious Irish coffee from the iconic Buena Vista.  Then, as all good things, our trip came to an end and it was time to catch our flight back home to our little ones!  

I learned a valuable lesson on this trip: Although I love running and I love wine tasting, the two shouldn't really be paired up! At least not for me!!! The next time I go to Napa, it will only be for wine tasting.  And the only drinking I'll do on race weekend, will be my post-race celebratory beer! Live and learn, right?