Running On Average

I Met Ryan Hall and Placed in my Last Race

Running | April 29, 2014 | By

So if you read my last post, you know that on Sunday I ran a 5K with my mom and sister, but wasn’t really happy with my performance. If you didn’t read it, go do that now then come back. I’ll wait.

Read it? Wasn’t it intriguing? Anyway. Last night I was looking at the race results online to see how we did and to my complete surprise, I won FIRST PLACE in my age division! We didn’t stay for awards Sunday because we figured we didn’t need to, so I was totally shocked. I emailed the race people this morning and asked if I could still get my medal and they said absolutely. So yea!! My first 1st place finish!

But I know the real reason you clicked on this post. Because Ryan Hall is in the title and he’s way cool!

Since the Pittsburgh Marathon is this weekend, our company had a mini expo today and reps from asics, Nathan, nuun, P-Tex, and Yurbuds came in with information and giveaways, which is completely awesome. We were also supposed to be able to try the asics treadmill challenge where you can see if you can run as fast as Ryan Hall, but that got rained out. Boo.

An email was also sent around yesterday saying that Ryan would be here and that we could sign up to attend the Q&A session with him so OF COURSE I jumped on that opportunity. He was with asics beforehand and signed a poster for me, which is hanging up in my cube now. The friend I went with is running the half this weekend (her first!!) and she asked him to write, “good luck!” on her poster. But I was a little star struck, so mine is simpler.

How’s that for motivation during the afternoon slouch??

How’s that for motivation during the afternoon slouch??

I asked him if he had any advice for us on how to get faster and he recommended doing running workouts, especially fartleks. He confessed that he can get bored on long runs and that fartleks make it more fun. I feel like I learned a deep dark secret of the elite marathoner- even they get bored on long runs! It made me feel normal. 🙂

During the Q&A, he was laid back and friendly. An asics rep started by asking him some questions for our benefit, so we could learn more about his background and training. He was very candid with his answers, which made him much more relatable. There were only about a dozen people in the Q&A, so after he talked a bit we all had the chance to ask him some questions. I don’t have the word-for-word transcript, but I compiled some of the highlights and advice he offered to the group.

Taking a picture on the sly.

Taking a picture on the sly.

On How He Got Started

Ryan used to hate running, which shocked me. Then one day, on the way to basketball practice, he decided that he wanted to see if he could run around a lake. He went out on another day with his dad and, wearing basketball sneakers, made his way around the lake. It was 15 miles! He didn’t run it straight through and it’s something that he would not recommend to anyone to start like that, but that’s how he got started.

On Fueling Before the Race

While he usually eats a lot of salads and vegetables, two days before a race he removes them from his diet. He is very particular about what he eats the night before a race and actually brings his on hot pot, pasta and olive oil with him to cook. And Muscle Milk!

One thing he recommended to eat was sourdough bread because it is light, but still filling and easy to digest. Yummm sourdough!

During the Race

He actually didn’t talk much about fueling during the race, other than to fuel early. And to make sure to drink water!

After the Race

The 30 minutes after the race is when it’s most important to refuel and it’s best to have sugar! What are Ryan Hall’s favorite? Gummy bears and candy corn! He doesn’t eat sugar often, but after a race is when he enjoys some sweets.

Focusing During the Race

The first half of the race, he relaxes and enjoys the race. He takes this time to check his body, make sure it’s relaxed, shoulders aren’t tense, his body is feeling good.

The second half of the race is where he really dials in and focuses on his race. When I asked him what he focuses on in the second half, he focuses on the mile that he’s in. He doesn’t focus on the miles to come or whether he ran the last mile faster than he wanted. When things get tough, he reminds himself that he’s been there in training before, that he’s felt this tired before, and that he’s pushed through it before and can do it again.


Some tips he offered on training: he, like most runners, is hard on himself, so if he writes down a training planning he will stick to it. As a result, he doesn’t keep a strict running plan, and has been running by feel. By the same token, he takes the idea of rest days seriously. If he runs hard one day, the next he will only run an hour…of course, for his cheetah like speed, I figure this to be at least 10 miles, but I guess that’s light for him!

I also asked how you learn to pace yourself. For instance, if he is doing 1 mile repeats at 4:45 pace, how does he know the pace he’s running? His biggest thing was to run by feel and effort. He likened this to the race where he won the American record for the half marathon. He had paces written down for how he was feeling on a good day, an okay day, but when he went out his first mile faster than those paces, he didn’t slow down. He felt good so he went with it and that earned him a record time.

But he also said that is he goes out too fast during a training run, then he’s going to keep that pace the entire run even if it’s hurting. Then next time he’ll know not to go out that fast! Haha But it’s a valid point.

Some Racing Tips

His last long hard run is 10 day before a race. I feel like that’s a little close, but he runs more than me so he knows what’s up. He also said that everybody is different. For instance, the asics rep that was with him ran Boston last weekend in 3:17(!). Her longest training run? 12 miles. That’s crazy! But his point is that everyone trains differently and a lot of it is mind over matter.

He uses Vaseline on his feet on race day to prevent blisters

Make sure to stay warm at the starting line! For marathons, he usually jogs 15 minutes before the start to warm up.

Even if you get warm once you start, don’t toss you extra layers aside. He tucks his gloves into the back of his shorts because he pointed out that you can turn a corner and if gets windy you might wish you had those gloves that you less on the ground so many miles back!

For marathons, he wears sneakers half a size bigger than normal because your feet swell over the course of the race and this helps prevent blisters, too.

On His Other Sports

Being a runner, he said, he doesn’t really have time or energy to play other sports…other than some pick-up basketball. But what he does love doing is fishing, and more recently tried his hand at hunting. He didn’t see any elk the day he went, but said being in the woods like that was still cool. As for fishing, he loves to bass fish and was doing so on a stand up board the day after he ran Boston. He hooked a bass, too, but sadly it got a way. He said he banged his hands on his board and yelled because he was bummed it got away and other people must have thought he was crazy.

This is my kind of guy!

And Finally…On His Favorite Race

One of the attendees asked what his favorite race was and he responded by saying, “I always feel like a politician when I answer this because there’s no way to please everyone.” But he decided on Boston being his favorite race. Having just run it last week, it was still pretty fresh and he admitted to being bummed that he didn’t race as well as he would have liked and that he didn’t win. But he came through it healthy and was glad that Meb, an American, won. He said it was something that America really needed to happen and he was proud to be an American running this race. With one million spectators lining the course this year, crossing that finish line and seeing people standing where the bombs went off last year, unafraid, he really felt apart of something special. He said if you ever get the chance and qualify for Boston, that you should definitely run it.

Challenge accepted.

Miles and Burgers

Last Saturday, I ran 1.74 miles, got really, um, sick, walked a 1/4 mile home and cried to Dave for about an hour. He was going to go run errands, but said instead he would stay home and keep his cell phone with him so that if I got sick or needed to run to the bathroom I could call him and he’d pick me up and drive me home…and even drop me back off again if I wanted. He. Is. Amazing.
So I sucked it up and headed back out for 18 more miles, heading against some good wind, riding hills, and visiting a lot of porta-johns on the run. Hey, when you’ve got colitis, you gotta do what you gotta do. Even if it’s precautionary measures.
I’ve been rocking nuun in Strawberry Lemonade and Swedish Fish as my fuel for runs. The Swedish fish are hard to chew while running, but I’m working on it.


Also, I got a whole bunch of nuun samples from work. Excitement!

Love me some nuun samples

Love me some nuun samples

After my run, I showered and Dave and I went to Saturday night mass, then decided to walk and try a bar called Sauce for dinner (burger lovin). Every time I go to mass, I think about getting engaged. It’s kind of awesome. 🙂

Snazzing up for mass and a dinner date

Snazzing up for mass and a dinner date

There was even a burger called the Messy Jesse! Which Dave got and it was tasty. I got Guiness black and it was AMAZING. Also. The waitress said that I eat really really slowly. Yes. Yes, I know.

This past weekend Dave and I went home to look for wedding venues. We looked at 4 and the first 3 were all nice, but not suited for us. Luckily, number 4 was the jackpot! We also met with the priest and I got to show Dave my home church, where the wedding will be. So we now have a church, priest, reception venue, date and time. CRAZY!

We dropped my little sister off for set construction on Saturday and Dave and I, reminiscing our high school years, decided to see if the door to the roof was still open. Success.

From the roof of the high school auditorium

From the roof of the high school auditorium

Those were my adventures the past week, did you have any good ones?


A Run, a Ring, and….what more do I need?!

So I realize that it’s been a while since my last blog. *Oops* Please forgive me and read on! I’ve got exciting news.
Let’s rewind and revisit February 8th. I had an 18 mile run on the schedule. Technically 17, but I like even numbers. OCD, party of one! Anyway, according to this plan I am following, I should be doing my long runs at a 10:20-11:39 pace. WHAT? That’s too slow for me. I know I am not a faster runner by any means, but I do have a hard time running too slow….until I get tired. Instead I run largely by feel for my long runs. I try to hit certain marks, but stay comfortable and honestly don’t know my exact pace until the end of the run.
I started my run at 11am, and remembering my complete bonk-out the previous week, tried to keep it slow from that get-go. At the suggestion of Danielle, I also filled my water bottle with nuun instead of plain water and stashed some Swedish Fish for extra energy. I was feeling great, I didn’t need to stop and walk or anything, just chugged away. I was really killing it on the pace, too! (for me on hills, anyway)
Mile 1- 9:37
Mile 2- 11:04 (uhhh…oops)
Mile 3- 9:44
Mile 4- 9:46
Mile 5- 9:16
Mile 6- 9:22
Mile 7- 9:25
Mile 8- 9:44
Mile 9- 9:31
Mile 10- 9:18
Mile 11- 8:57 (say whaaaatt!!)
Mile 12- 9:42
Mile 13- 9:04
Mile 14- 10:17
So it was at mile 13.5, that I stopped back at the house and picked up Dave for the last 4 1/2. Apparently doing this made my mind go, “yea!! We’re done! Hey, legs, we’re done!” And the last 4 miles were MISERABLE. With walk breaks. Too many walk breaks. Ugh.
Mile 15- 11:05
Mile 16- 10:14
Mile 17- 11:47
Mile 18- 13:17 (ouch, wounded pride)

Anyway, that was that. The evening MORE than made up for it. Dave and I decided to go to 5 o’clock mass so we could sleep in Sunday. Afterward, he asked me if I wanted to go up to Mt. Washington since we had been talking about it and it wasn’t snowing yet. So we did. We were up on Mt. Washington, in a more private little spot and he was standing behind me and I heard him unzip his jacket. It was freezing! I told him he was crazy, but thought he was just getting out his phone to take photos of the city like I was.  Then he goes, “Jesse,” and as I’m turning around he gets down on one knee, opens a box and says, “will you marry me?”
It was so easy! It was so perfect! It was so quick! I said yes and waited until he stood up to give him a huge hug. I cannot even tell you how excited I was. Another guy was up there with his dog and we asked him to take our picture. It came out a little blurry (sorry, dude), so we selfied it.
Before mass, we had decided on Chinese takeout for dinner and that is what we stuck with! When we got back to the house, Dave called in our order while I started calling my parents, sisters and grandmom. Then his family. His brother’s response was possibly the funniest ever….”well that was a long time coming.” haha! The reasoning: Dave and I have been friends since junior high, we dated in high school/the start of college for 2 years, then broke it off and reconnected after he finished grad school, finally getting back into a real relationship about 2 years ago. The time apart let us grow up and experience our own colleges, directions and friends. But back on topic…
We still had Champagne that I purchased during a Champagne cellars tour when we were in France, so we popped open the bottle of bubbly and celebrated with Champagne and Chinese takeout.
It was completely perfect. I am incredibly lucky and very excited to marry Dave!

I wish I could post pictures, but this site is being a little B, so I will post them separately. A post of just pictures. YEA!!! 😀

Okay, it’s 10:30 and I’m exhausted. WanderlustRunner OUT!

The Not-So-Long Run

This weekend I had a 14-miler on the schedule, but well, sometimes life has different plans. I have ulcerative colitis which means that sometimes my stomach has plans of its own and last week was one of those weeks. Treadmill runs are fine because, if I need to, the locker room is right there. But 14 miles without pit stops? I stressed all weekend just thinking about it. And it made me very irritable.
To the point where I texted Danielle and ask her about missing runs during marathon training. At the beginning of her last marathon training she sprained her ankle pretty bad and it hugely affected her schedule. She assured me that it wouldn’t ruin my race, but to try and run/walk or see how many miles I can go. So yesterday afternoon, I got all decked out in my gear, laced up my Wave Rider 16s, grabbed my boy and off we went to explore new roads!  He had mapped out (mostly in his head) an exploratory route. It was fun and zig-zaggy course. We paused at mile 4 and tried some strawberry Clif Bloks. The verdict is still out on them. Tasty, but I’m not sure how easy they’d be to chew and digest in a marathon. When we took a pause at mile 5 before heading back, Dave offered up these words of encouragement, “I hate you. Why can’t you be obsessed with 5Ks??” To which I responded, “I am obsessed with 5Ks. I want sub 24 minutes.” Not the answer he was looking for. 🙂

photo 1 (1)
Dave started dragging around mile 6 and our pace slowed. I began running all the cul-de-sacs while he walked past them and when we got to the final mile his knee was hurting something awful so he headed home and I ran some extra detour blocks. I ended up back in the garage at 8.98 miles. Oh HELL no. I ran back outside around the parking lot until I heard 9 miles in my headphones. Then I bee-lined for the bathroom. Life gets real. Anyway, at that point I was in the house, I was feeling great and after how awful I felt about last week’s run, I decided to stop while I was ahead. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, stopping short, but when you have colitis, you learn to deal.
Afterward I also tried a nuun in my water, and the verdict is still out on that, too. It was (mostly) tasty, but it tingled almost like it was carbonated. But not in my stomach, only on my tongue. WEIRD.

photo 2
Anyway, here’s a rundown of the paces. Can you tell where Dave got tired? 🙂
Mile 1- 9:38
Mile 2- 10:31 (got lost and walked a moment)
Mile 3- 9:40
Mile 4- 9:07
Mile 5- 9:33
Mile 6- 9:05
Mile 7- 11:57
Mile 8- 11:06
Mile 9- 9:46

SmartWool socks! Love them! And a blanket because I was FREEZING

Today was 4 easy miles on the treadmill. BORING! Today was 2 miles at 6.2, then alternating between 6.4 (verses) and 6.8 (refrains) for 2 miles to keep me interested. It felt great! And running at 1% on the treadmill felt like running downhill. haha

What do you use to fuel your runs?