Medal Monday: The Coldest Race of My Life

Hey guys!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a Medal Monday post, so I wanted to apologize for my inconsistent posting schedule lately. I’ve been pretty busy since graduating college last month. I moved back to Florida permanently, bought my first car (2013 VW Beetle light blue!), had a couple mental breakdowns during my never ending job search, and questioned things like my life choices and entire existence. Just normal post-grad things!

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How I’m handling the realization that college prepared me for nothing.

One thing that centers me aside from running is writing. Hence why this blog is called The Running Writer. If you couldn’t tell yet, one of my hidden talents is pointing out things that are already painfully obvious!

So for my own sanity I wanted to get back in the swing of writing a new Medal Monday for you every week. These posts are reminders of why I started running and why I’ll continue running as long as my little legs allow me to. Which is hopefully for many many more years.

My last Monday Medal post was the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, FL. Today we’re going to fast forward six months from that first finish line to the second one aka the coldest race I’ve ever ran in my entire life, but that’s just a minor detail.

All of my medals are special to me, but this one in particular marks the beginning of an era of crossing many finish lines with one of my closest friends.

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A rare photo of Caitlyn and I together NOT in active wear!

Enter: Caitlyn! Please get familiar with her, because she’s going to be in quite a few future Medal Mondays.

Along with crossing those finish lines together came many pre-race rituals, which looks a bit like this:

  1. Carb loading the night before.
  2. An intense dance party, but not too intense, we have to run 13.1 miles in the morning for crying out loud!
  3. Sleeping in our race outfits in Caitlyn’s twin sized bed.
  4. Waking up at way-too-early o’clock after going through 12 of Caitlyn’s alarms.
  5. Singing our lungs out on the way to the race (lately, to Hamilton).
  6. Kicking butt out there on the course!

I can’t remember exactly how, but over that summer I managed to convince her to start training for Morristown’s Halloween Half Marathon with me.

Like any second time half marathoner, I actually had confidence in my ability to run 13.1 miles and not die or give up and become a laughing stock to all my family and friends. When I was training for my first half marathon I was almost positive I would complete my training and cross the finish line, but I wasn’t sure that I would ever do it again.

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My face anytime someone asked me what my time goal was.

That being said, I of course didn’t set a time goal. I was still impressed that after growing up with almost a grudge towards anything athletic related, that I was going to train and complete a SECOND half marathon.

Training was a breeze, although I missed quite a few long runs. I was so confident in my ability to cross the finish line that I didn’t stick to my training. I seriously want to cringe thinking about how THAT was my attitude.

Don’t be cocky like 23-year-old Kerry. Just don’t.

Remember how I said earlier that this was the coldest race of my life? Let’s talk about that, yeah?

Race day was in the middle of October, which in New Jersey is full on fall time. The week leading up to our race was unusually warm for the time of year it was. Caitlyn and I had our fingers crossed that the weather would hold out for us.

Spoiler alert: It didn’t. Overnight, it turned to winter and the high for race day was 38 degrees. While we were running the temperature MIGHT have reached 35 degrees.

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I am Hans and Elsa is God. My prayers were not answered for nice weather.

I know people run in much more frigid temperatures and for sure don’t complain about it nearly as much as I do but for those of you that don’t know me that well, I don’t do well in the cold which is one of the many reasons why I love Florida. From October to around April when I lived in New Jersey I avoided the outdoors and I moaned and groaned anytime I did have to go outside. I wasn’t the most pleasant company to say the least.

Caitlyn and I wore long sleeve shirts, giant sweatshirts, gloves AND those ear warmer headband things that I’ve never know the name for. We stood around for nearly 45 minutes before the race started and we wore everything long past the finish line.

second half marathon

 

The second we stopped running I had the longest coughing fit from the cold air in my lungs. I don’t think I’ve ever been so cold in my life, but I don’t remember not smiling at any point.

Looking back and sharing all the little details makes me look at how far I’ve come as a runner. I’m really grateful that it’s something I’ve stuck with and improved at because it really has changed my life.

I guess that’s what the medals are for right? Marking milestones in our never ending running stories.

Thanks for hanging around for another Medal Monday guys! I’ll see you on Twitter and Instagram (I just posted pictures from my day trip to Disney!).

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5 Reasons Why Runners Forget Their Sunscreen

Your water bottle is filled to the brim with ice cold water.

Running shoes are laced up and ready to go.

The playlist that always pushes you through that last mile is updated and waiting to be played

Your watch is charged and strapped onto your wrist, ready to track the run you’re about to embark on.

Stepping outside you put one foot in front of the other, and completely crush your run.

Except you don’t because you’re forgetting something.

Let’s rewind and find the missing piece of this equation.

SUNSCREEN!!!

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The “you” in this scenario is 100% me. I decided to write this post because I typically fall short when it comes to protecting my skin during my runs. Now that I’ve moved back to Florida I really need to be more diligent about this, and I know I’m not the only one!

Jeez, even typing that makes me cringe a little!

Since it’s officially summer and more runners will be hopping off the treadmill to enjoy the warm weather, I thought there was no better opportunity than right now to start this conversation!

Skin cancer prevention is incredibly important and maybe just like me, you have to be more conscious about it as well. The Skin Cancer Foundation has a ton of crazy stats that will make you want to take action. The one stating that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over their lifetime is what startled me into realizing that I need to take every precaution to protect my skin while I’m out on my runs.

If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few excuses up your sleeves to avoid putting sunscreen on before a run. Fortunately (or unfortunately depending on how you look at it), I’m here to call your (and my own) bluff!

  1. “I’m only outside running for half an hour, that’s not long enough to need sunscreen”

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Sorry friend but just like me, you’re wrong. Three half hour runs a week add up! That’s an hour and a half in the sun, not including any other time you spend outdoors throughout the week. And if you run more than three times a week like me, you’re adding up even more time spent in the sun. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States and if all it takes to lower our chances of getting it is consistently putting a layer or two of sunscreen on before running out the door what excuse do we really have?

2. “I don’t burn easily, or at all, so I don’t need to worry”

Survey says…you’re still wrong! Even if you don’t burn, your skin still gets damaged by the sun’s UV rays. You won’t see the damage immediately, but who wants their skin to age prematurely and look like an old leathery couch in 10 years?  The temporary sun-kissed glow isn’t worth it!

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3. “Putting sunscreen on before a run makes the run even hotter and I sweat even more”

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Same. But I’ve figured out through experience that if that’s what’s happening, you’re probably doing something wrong. You can’t just slap some sunscreen on yourself and start running. You should put it on 30 minutes before your run so your skin has time to absorb it and the sunscreen has time to activate. Doing this will protect you from the sun’s harmful UV rays from the second you step outside. I’ve also discovered choosing a sports sunscreen that sprays on will eliminate that thick and sticky sunscreen/sweat mixture. Problem solved!

4. “I want to protect my skin more but I always forget to put sunscreen on before my run”

This one in particular is my weakness. I often get ready and start running without even using my brain. To combat forgetting my sunscreen I leave it somewhere I know I’ll see it. Leaving it next to my toothbrush or next to my watch usually does the trick. Leave it in your purse, in front of the door or even in one of your running shoes! Get creative and do whatever it takes to be sure you’re protecting your skin.

5. “Wearing sunscreen makes my skin breakout”

This is my favorite excuse that I’ve been using since the beginning of time. I would avoid putting sunscreen on my face when possible because my skin would break out. But the truth is that there are too many sunscreens out there now made specifically for acne-prone skin for this excuse to hold truth anymore.

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So… now that I’ve debunked all of the reasons why you and I have been passing on the sunscreen, will you join me in being more diligent about protecting our skin on our runs?

See you on Twitter and Instagram!

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Medal Monday: Iron Girl Half Marathon

Woo-hoo, another Medal Monday! This one’s going to be a good one because we’re getting into the half marathon medals, which are usually bigger and cooler.

My first half marathon was the Iron Girl Half Marathon in Clearwater, Florida. there were palm trees everywhere and everything was pink. I was thriving.

The story behind this one is really personal and one that I’m really proud to tell. I went from having the best year of my life in 2014 because of my Disney College Program and getting one semester closer to graduating college to…kind of nothing.

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The perks of being a Disney Cast Member! You get to hang out with your bosses girlfriend and accidentally match outfits.

My internship ended and I couldn’t afford to go back to school for another semester all while my friends were graduating college, getting their first “big kid” jobs and moving in with their significant others. I was, of course, filled with joy for them but I was also avoiding everyone out of embarrassment.

Transitioning from everyone watching me live the “coolest” life on Instagram while working in Magic Kingdom to trading in that Disney name tag for a full-time spot as a hostess at a sports grill…well, it was less than magical.

I was bored and mortified that everything in my life was at a standstill. I was in search of some kind of accomplishment to work towards to make up for the nothingness that my life seemed to have reverted to. And that is how I decided I was going to train for a half marathon.

I spent hours on google trying to learn everything I needed to know to make this happen, looked at 100 different training plans before picking the perfect one, registered for the Iron Girl Half Marathon and the rest is history!

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I told you…everything was covered in palm trees and pink!

I dedicated myself and my time to running 5 days a week for 12 weeks straight and I felt myself growing stronger physically and mentally week by week. While I was still embarrassed that I wasn’t in school, my mind-set was beginning to change and my confidence decided to make an appearance in my life again.

Training for a half marathon for the first time is no joke. It takes a serious amount of determination and pushing your limits even when you’re uncomfortable and feel like giving up. Despite that, my training was one of the only things that kept me going in that season of my life. I loved talking about it and it gave me the confidence to face people again.

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Sun rise on mile three? Sure!

Okay, back to everything being pink! Everyone at the starting line was so excited and pumped to be there, and to my surprise so many of them were running their first half marathon too. The weather was perfect, the course was beautiful and the energy was insane. So much so that I didn’t start to feel tired until mile 12. That was by FAR the toughest mile I’ve ever run in my life but it was the most rewarding. It led me to that finish line and got me the prettiest medal I’ve ever seen (besides the Disney Princess Half Marathon medals, sorry Iron Girl).

I couldn’t bend or lift my legs for at least two days but it was all worth it. This medal reminds me that sometimes our plans aren’t the best plans for us and they don’t happen the way we want them to because something greater needs to enter our lives.

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They really should have been giving out sweat towels with those medals, just saying.

It also reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Lysa Terkeurst and biggest lesson I took away from this entire experience. “External achievement never equals internal acceptance.”

Training for a half marathon will make you confident and change your life, BUT it won’t magically fix what you’re running from.

Follow me on Twitter and Instagram to follow my crazy running shenanigans!

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The Secret to Getting Started

When people think about running, or just exercising in general, they think there’s some crazy and complicated formula behind getting started (myself included), mostly because they don’t know how to begin. They don’t want to start until they feel like they know what they’re doing. More often than not, that’s the reason why people quit before they even get started.

But guess what? That magical and complicated formula doesn’t actually exist. If you want to start something, it comes down to two things. It’s simple and I’m not trying to trick you.

How Badly Do You Want It?

Life is busy and it’s hard. Good, but hard. There are so many different responsibilities that need our time and attention and I totally understand why people have a hard time exercising consistently and make it part of their routine. I’ve been there, I get it.

But I also firmly believe that if you want something badly enough, you’ll do what have to do to make it work. So maybe the reason you haven’t been able to get started, or the reason why you fall off track so quickly is because you just don’t desperately want to become a runner. Speaking from personal experience, it took me 21 years until I got to the point where I wanted it bad enough. Let me tell you, it was NOT going to happen before then.

Can You Take It One Mile At A Time?

Now the one I’m particularly awful at is taking it one mile at a time. Since I was eight or nine years old I’ve struggled on and off with anxiety, so I can get overwhelmed easily sometimes.

Like right now, for instance. All within the next three weeks I’ll be finishing my classes, fixing up my resume and portfolio, starting my job hunt, taking my drivers test, graduating college, running my sixth half marathon, moving from New Jersey to Florida AND start shopping for my first car.giphy

While these are all incredibly great things that I’ve been waiting for and dreaming of for years, it’s still making my head spin when I look at all of it at once. But this is exactly like a race. You can’t think about mile 10 when you’re on mile three. You throw yourself off balance and you never make it. What we can do though is worry about one thing at a time. First I’ll finish my classes, check that off and start polishing up my resume to send out. Then I’ll move on to the next thing.

You don’t need to know what you’re doing to start running. That’s the best part! I mean, you COULD read all my blog posts and I’ll definitely have you prepared, but when it comes down to it no one ever knows what they’re doing.

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If you wait until you know what you’re doing to start, you could miss out on experiences like this one!

I had no idea what the heck I was doing when I decided to sign up for a half marathon. And that’s kind of relevant to everything I’ve ever done in my life. One fall morning in 2013 I woke up and my first conscious thought was “Okay, right now is when I need to apply for the Disney College Program,” after not giving the program a single thought since the past summer. I found my acceptance e-mail a week later and I had to tell everyone in my life I was moving 17 hours away for an internship they didn’t even know I applied to.

Running was kind of like that too. I woke up one morning and made choice and I stuck to it. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I figured it out along the way.

Deciding to run was the best decision I’ve ever made. In this moment, I still don’t know what the heck I’m doing. In fact, the one thing I DO know is that I will never know what I’m doing

But that’s when the magic happens and lives change. We challenge ourselves and try to accomplish something and that’s when we grow.

When you decide you want to be a runner badly enough, you’ll make time for it. And then, you’ll take it one mile at a time.

You can’t worry about week 12 of the training plan when you’re on week one. Start small, and start now. There’s never going to be “the right moment”.

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