half marathon training
It certainly has been awhile. Not simply days or weeks… but rather months since our last post. My apologies. I wish I could say that we were incredibly busy and had no time to even think about blogging, but that isn’t true at all. Yes, there were times when we were quite busy (doesn’t everyone have those busy seasons?), but we most certainly had SOME time to blog something. So shame on us! We will try not to go too long between posts in the future.
I will have a LITTLE bit more time on my hands as I am forced to take a small hiatus from running or anything high-impact really. Stupid me, I decided to train too hard last week for my half-marathon. I started speed work last week, and I pretty much overexerted my feet. After a couple of days of pain in my left foot when I walked, I decided to go to my foot doctor. He told me it wasn’t the fact that I was unfit or incapable of running longer distances, I just put too much pressure on my feet too quickly when I tried to do speed work. I don’t have any symptoms of a stress fracture (thank goodness), but I’m being prescribed an anti-inflammatory medicine, need to take rest the foot, ice it twice-daily, and NOT DO ANY HIGH-IMPACT WORK OUTS. WHOMP WHOMP.
I only do high-impact work outs (running, Insanity, etc.), so this poses a dilemma for me. I guess after resting for a week I’ll get back to PiYo (a more low-impact workout that blends pilates and yoga) to lean out and tone out my muscles.
This is such an unideal time for me to be out of commission! 1) I have a 5K this weekend that I was planning on running with Joseph and my StuCo kids, so now that’s a bust; 2) I NEED to train for my half-marathon coming up in January (Aramco Half anyone? Anyone?); and 3) Joseph is being featured in an P90X Live video on Beachbody on Demand TOMORROW, and I wanted to check out the video and work out with him! #supportivefeyonce (Shameless plug – sign-up for Beachbody on Demand for FREE for 30-days and check him out! Seriously. Go. goo.gl/AbWFOT)
Okay, back to the purpose of this post. Recipe. Summer is usually the time when I cook the most, and this summer was no different. I’ve learned the art of meal-prepping for not just one, but TWO! Joseph eats like a monster, and I’ve been trying to find a variety of ways to not only whip up something that’s somewhat palatable but also something that be made in bulk. This is where ground meat comes in. I like this recipe because it’s so versatile. Honestly, me posting this isn’t really useful because I’m sure anyone could come up with this on their own and/or it’s already something you make. Maybe I’m just late to the game.
Let’s begin! Gather the ingredients!
- 1-2lbs ground meat (can be ground chicken, beef, turkey, etc., and the amount depends on how much you want to cook)
- 1/4 – 1/2 diced onion
- 1-2 minced cloves of garlic (optional, sometimes I’m lazy and give up on the mincing)
- 1-2TBSP fat of choice (I tend to use extra virgin olive oil over ghee, I’ve found that when you refrigerate ground meat cooked with ghee, it hardens and looks nasty. But if you’re eating it immediately after, ghee gives the meat a better flavoring)
- Flavorgod Seasoning of choice (if you don’t have this yet… GET IT. I use it for everything!)
- Turn stove on to medium heat and place a large pan on top of the stove. When the pan is sufficiently heated, add your fat of choice.
- Add your diced onions and garlic. Cook onions a few minutes until it’s slightly translucent.
- Add your ground meat to the pan and begin cooking until meat is half-way cooked. Season meat according to your taste
buds, but don’t be afraid to add a good amount of seasoning! I tend to season things with a lighter hand, but ground meat actually needs a good amount of seasoning before you can begin to taste the seasoning. I wish I could tell you exactly how much to put in… but I honestly eyeball it. Sorry, I’m useless.
- Continue cooking until meat is thoroughly done!
I honestly might be completely off in how to cook this. It is possible that I overcook the meat. But Joseph is such an easy eater that I wouldn’t know if I was doing something wrong. So please use your best judgment in cooking this, haha. 🙂
When you’ve cooked this enough, it can easily take under 15 minutes to prep AND cook it. I love to pair this with fresh cucumbers and if I’m feeling particularly naughty, eat it with BROWN RICE (dun dun dun!!!).
I just love this dish because it’s SO easy to make and you virtually only need to go out to the grocery store to buy two to three fresh ingredients if you don’t have it at home already (meat, onions, garlic). Two pounds of this is more than enough protein to meal prep lunches for almost an entire week for two people.
If you make something similar, what do you like to season your ground meat with? Any other tips and suggestions?
Until the next meal,
Joseph + Jennifer
Race recap blog posts will be written by the both of us! Here is HER STORY (i.e mine) first. Keep in mind this is coming from a first-time half-marathoner and noob runner to say the least. Next post will be Joseph’s point of view!
WAKING UP: Well, you already know how I was feeling the night before. Needless to say, it took me FOREVER to actually get to sleep. Awesome. I was supposed to wake-up at 4AM, but for whatever reason only my SECOND alarm went off at 4:15AM. By that time, Joseph was already on his way to pick me up, so I needed to haul my butt and get ready as quickly as possibly. Fortunately, I already had everything prepped from the night before, so all it took was to put my clothes on, grab my breakfast, and head out to Joseph’s truck!
ARRIVING AT THE GEORGE R BROWN (GRB) CONVENTION CENTER: It wasn’t as bad as we expected. I was worried about traffic around GRB and finding parking, but I think we arrived early enough (5AM) to avoid the main bulk of traffic. The HouMarathon offered a 5:30AM Catholic mass service, so Joseph and I attended that service before doing anything else. That ending up being an incredibly calming and peaceful way for us to start off our race morning!
THE PORT-A-POTTY ADVENTURES: Before the Catholic mass, before checking anything in, and before ANYTHING/EVERYTHING in general, we decided to use the bathroom because we knew that it would become congested as more people arrived. Smart move on our end. Now, I’ve never actually used them before. I’ve seen them, and I understand the concept behind them, but I’ve never had the need to use the restroom so badly that I was willing to use one. So, I go into the port-a-potty, do my thing, and I look around for the toilet flush. Confused. No toilet flush to be seen. Very confused. I quickly text Joseph:
Me: “Babe! Where is the button to flush the toilet?”
Him: “There is none.”
Me: Horror slowly dawning on me… “WAIT. WHAT. THERE IS NONE? But… but… I just… pooped… it’s down there… OMG WHAT. PEOPLE WILL SEE IT.”
Him: “Yea. That’s what happens.”
Me: Shamefacedly opening the door slowly and peering out. Man next in line immediately steps up to enter the port-a-potty. Avoid eye contact and scurry away. Don’t look down into the toilet dear sir. Please don’t.
WOW. Okay, so I guess I never thought about port-a-potties properly. And I hate to be a pansy about it but… OMG EW. EW. EW. And then we had to go again to the port-a-potties around 6-7AM and WOW the lines were crazy. Everyone and their mother was using the bathroom. And by that time since thousands of people had been using the bathrooms the whole area smelled… runners’ bowel movements, y’all. And you really have no option sometimes but to look down into the toilet because the area is so small… but try not to. Seriously… try not to look there!!! Scarred for life. Inside the cavernous toilet bowl, mountains of… wow. Yea. Yea. That was an adventure I’ll never forget, unfortunately.
Random useful tips:
- Go as early as you can. 5AM was perfect because there was virtually no wait. It’s also when the port-a-potties are the cleanest and have the least amount of waste piling up down below. YUCK.
- Bring personal cleaning wipes! I felt much better using cleaning wipes over toilet paper in the port-a-potty. Peace of mind.
- Bring hand sanitizer. They offer hand sanitizer in the port-a-pottys, but 1) it’s weak hand sanitizer and 2) it runs out quickly as the morning progresses.
- GO TO THE BACK PORT-A-POTTIES. This applies to you if it’s 6AM-7AM and you see a congested line towards the front. There is not just ONE line to the bathroom. There are dozens! So keep walking FURTHER into the port-a-potties to find a good chunk of bathrooms that have shorter lines!
THE START OF THE RUN: Heading out to the race itself was beyond awe-inspiring. There were thousands, literally THOUSANDS of people streaming down the streets DT Houston. It was so cool to see. People of all walks of life, different races, different ages, people running for different reasons. It is quite beautiful to witness and be a part of. But all those people also meant shoulder-to-shoulder crowds in the streets. Really… shoulder-to-shoulder. It was insane. And unfortunately, Joseph and I were in corral D, the LAST corral that is released to run, so when the gun actually went off… because of the sheer amount of people in the race, we were unable to actually move anywhere until around 7:27AM… whomp whomp buzzkill.
MILE 2: Took a pit stop at the port-a-potties for the first time during the race. I wanted to get more out of my system as early as possible, so I wouldn’t break my stride too deep into the race. Smart idea. The lines were not long (they were longer at other stopping points), and again, it was early enough so not many people used those port-a-potties in the first place. Relatively clean and not smelly. HOORAH!
MILE 5-6: Feeling a little tired and stomach is empty. Losing energy. Took some Honeystingers Organic Energy Chews to boost up the energy. Also passed by my co-worker, Katie and her husband, Jay, who came out to cheer for us! More energy boosting. THANKS KATIE AND JAY!
MILE 7-8: Knowing I still had halfway to go was rough. During the race all I did was play games with myself. “Pass up one person, you can do it! Run more step because you can. Okay, another one. Another one. There’s another person. Pass them up!” I also read the signs that people were waving about, listening to people cheer, looking at all the dogs spectators brought with them, and just pondering about life. I had good moments and bad moments during the run. Moments where I was coasting and feeling good and then moments where I was irritable and grumpy because there was still X amount of miles to go.
ALMOST TO THE END (Mile 10 and beyond): This was rough. Incredibly rough. The hardest part of my race by far. I took another few Honeystingers Organic Energy Chews for more boosts of energy. I felt so close but so far away, and my legs were at this point trying to give out on me. I really wanted to give up. I wanted to just call it a day and walk it home. But Joseph wouldn’t let me. He knew I had more in me and encouraged me to “push past the wall.” And he also kept weaving in and out of people, and I had to catch up. I think that was his way of going, “I KNOW YOU CAN STILL RUN, SO STOP SLOWING DOWN!” I also thought about my friends at the end of the race. I had to at least still be running when I got to them! I couldn’t just have them come all the way out to see me just walk the end of the race! And I knew that deep down, if I gave up, I would be so disappointed with myself. I knew that I wanted to be able say, “I ran the half-marathon. All of it. I did it.” So I kept running. And I kept playing my game, “Pass this person up. Now this person.” And this is when I really took stock of the signs around me. “BRING IT HOME! YOU CAN DO IT! KEEP GOING!” And I used those as mantras to fuel me to the end. That very last mile though… I thought it was almost over. Pain was shooting through my leg muscles, my hands felt weird/tingly (hot? cold? they were confused), I started getting this raging headache… I think I cried out in pain and frustration a few times while running that last mile. Geeze, thinking about it again makes me cringe in pain.
THE END: Seeing that finish line and the crowds of people surging with their cheers… was breathtaking. I tried to smile at my friends as I ran by… I think it looked more like a scary pained grimace. But finally crossing that finish line and knowing that I DID IT was… an indescribable feeling. I felt proud, empowered, exhausted, relieved, all these emotions rolled up together in one tiny brain. I looked to my left and grabbed Joseph’s hands, both in part because I was happy he was with me but also because I actually couldn’t stand up anymore. Romantic, huh? I think my brain couldn’t handle those emotions so it ended up going with the, “Let’s make Jennifer feel lightheaded and woozy and not capable of walking” reaction. My legs were as wobbly as Jell-O, and I needed Joseph to help me walk back to GRB.
REUNION: It was so great being done! Legs and feet were definitely in pain, and I wobbled and hobbled around to grab my belongings and meet up with my friends, Krysten, Karmina, Jessica, Angela, and David at the reunion. I felt so thankful that they were there to cheer me on and support my race! I wish I could have seen everyone else I knew that was running the race, but there were so many people the chances of finding people by chance were slim.
My tips to others (and myself) if I were do another half-marathon:
- Train consistently. Really try and stick with a training program and don’t YOLO it the way I did during some weeks.
- Run with someone. Friends, significant other, find a stranger in the race and befriend them. It’s nice to have someone with you during the race.
- Eat more. I think I didn’t eat enough prior to my race. I had a small helping of potatoes and eggs and a Honeystinger organic waffle at 4:30AM, but I think I should have eaten something small a little closer to 6AM. Maybe another Honeystinger organic waffle?
- Stay hydrated! One of my biggest weaknesses/flaws in life is not hydrating enough. I definitely did NOT drink enough water the weeks leading up to my race, but on race day as well. Joseph always tells me I never drink enough. I’m just bad about it! I also hate having to go the restroom all the time.
- DON’T FREAK OUT. I’m a person who freaks out a lot by nature, so I don’t know if I’ll ever not freak out. But I can at least try and be calm and just let it happen.
The Chevron Marathon/Aramco Half Marathon is such an amazing race. The environment is great; the crowds are so positive; it really is one of the best races to run in Houston. It was the perfect race to run my first half marathon in! I feel really proud of myself. I’ve grown a lot in the past year, and I’ve accomplished goals i never thought were possible. Was the training and the pain worth it? Yes. I think so.
And, in a strange race-induced haze or something of the sort, Joseph signed up for the Chevron marathon next year, and I signed up for the Aramco half marathon once again. Do I want to do this? I don’t know. I really think that some part of me is a masochist, and I think I like torturing myself. UGH. But will I do it? Yes. I will. Is there a full marathon in my future? That… I don’t know. 13.1 miles was close to impossible for me… 26.2 miles? I can’t even begin to imagine that. But I said that about a half marathon a year ago… who knows.
I also still have another half marathon to run in exactly a month! Joseph and I signed up to do the Glass Slipper Challenge at Walt Disney World this February 2015. Saturday will be the Enchanted 10K race and then Sunday will be the Disney Princess Half Marathon. Back-to-back races. Am I excited about the run itself? Meh… slightly terrified again. Am I excited about Disney World and all the characters at the mile stopping points? UM HECK YES. THIS IS THE RUN FOR ME. THE HAPPIEST RUN ON EARTH AT THE HAPPIEST PLACE ON EARTH! Stay tuned, we’ll writing recap blog posts for that. And maybe even a video because we’ll be GoPro-ing that race!
Thanks for staying with me this entire post. AND JUST KEEP RUNNING! Who is going to run the Aramco Half with me next year!!!
My nerves are getting to me. Is running a half-marathon even something to get jittery over? It’s not as though I’m about to perform in front of an audience or take some big exam that will make or break my life. It’s just a simple run, right? I don’t know why I feel so nervous for. It’s 7:24PM, and I am laying here, waiting for sleep to arrive. Which isn’t happening. Because who really sleeps at 7PM? Oh right, Joseph. (Lucky him, he can sleep at any given moment it seems…)
I feel relatively prepared.
- Cute running outfit? Check.
- Check-in bag with jacket/sweats/etc.? Check.
- Alarms set? 4AM. Check. 4:15AM. Check. 4:30AM JUST IN CASE. Check.
- Carbed up for the week? Double check. Man, I thought I loved carbs… but that was pretty rough, forcing myself to carb up. Joseph carbed up strictly paleo (chicken and sweet potatoes). I was a little more lax by incorporating pasta alongside white/sweet potatoes in my carb diet this week, but I at least chose to cook with gluten-free quinoa pasta and organic no-sugar marinara sauce.
But am I physically and mentally prepared? I don’t know. I’ve been training since mid-October when my podiatrist gave me the clear to begin high-impact exercising. I was technically supposed to follow the Nike app training program for the half-marathon… but honestly, as a teacher, there were days when I just did not have time to run (darn you papers that I needed to grade!), and there were days when I just did not want to run. I tried to run at least three times a week, but to be honest with myself, I didn’t train as well as I could have and should have. And that terrifies me for tomorrow. Thinking about running 13.1 miles… I mean, that’s a pretty long distance and a long time. I’m worried for one of my toenails. I’m worried for my bowel movement (TMI, I know, but it’s a runner thing). I’m worried for my lungs. I’m worried for my feet, the left bunion foot AND the right surgery foot. I’m worried I won’t meet my goal to just keep running, no walking! What if I pass out? What if I collapse? WHAT IF I THROW UP? Embarrassing. Why did I do this to myself again? Oh right, I have no earthly idea.
I do know that I am thankful. Very thankful for supportive family, friends, co-workers, and even students who are willing to brave the cold and stand outside and cheer for me as I struggle across the finish line. What more could a girl ask for, right? Wrong. I am most thankful for Joseph, who has been my number one supporter, trainer, motivator, and everything all rolled up into one. Spending his Saturday mornings running behind me and pushing me to do my best when he could be A) sleeping in or B) running at a MUCH faster pace on his own. Helping me with my running by showing me the proper way to breathe while running and how to properly stretch afterwards. Surprising me with running gear that I didn’t realize I needed (wow, ear warmers and gloves in the winter… LIFECHANGING). Always telling me that I CAN do it. Knowing when to let me be me when I refuse to run. And just inspiring me to continue running because he can do SO much. I am fortunate and so very thankful.
AHHHHHHH!!! I really can’t believe I’m running a half-marathon tomorrow! I know that there are thousands of people who do this all the time, but it’s crazy to me that I am about to set forth and be one of those people! A year ago I could barely run a 5K, and here I am about to complete a half-marathon! Well… hopefully complete. Haha, let’s not jump the gun here. After the past few months, I have so much respect for real runners of multiple half-marathons and marathons. HUGE kudos to y’all.
Well, it really is time for me to try and get some shut-eye or else tomorrow’s run really will be rough. A big GOOD LUCK to all the half-marathoners and marathoners at the Chevron Houston Marathon/Aramco Houston Marathon tomorrow!!!