Marine Corps Marathon – Part 2!


I woke up the morning of my second Marine Corps Marathon well rested, hungry, and a teensy bit nervous. I had only gotten about two-thirds of the way through my training plan, I hadn’t gotten over 16 miles on my long runs, and I hadn’t ran much in the past few months. Soccer games and hikes? Yes, ma’am! Running, though? Not so much.


I was so antsy and anxious at the start line the previous year, but this time around it was more like, meh – hopefully I finish without a major injury. My no-effs given mentality was totally freeing and, as it turned out, effective 🙂


I hung out with my dad in the VIP runner tent for about an hour. The tent had a glorious buffet of energy gels, Clif Bars, bagels, cream cheese, bananas, apples and coffee. As in normal life, I stuck to banana, half a bagel, and some coffee to hold me over till the start.

I made a friend at the bar the night before (pro tip: beer has electrolytes!) and we met up at the start line. We expected to be around the same pace, so we linked up and took off together. We stuck for the hilly first eight miles, but I wanted to go slower and he wanted to speed up. This wasn’t my first rodeo, and I’ve made the mistake of starting out too fast – no Bueno.


Despite my lack of training, the miles flew by quickly. The crowd was awesome as always, with especially riveting signs rooted in the craziness of the current election. There were rock and jazz bands, spectators in full costumes, and – best of ALL – a female firefighter running the entire marathon in her full gear. GIRL POWER, YEA!

I kept seeing my dad with his awesome sign at regular intervals, cheering me on and telling me I was getting close to the bridge. The bridge is the cutoff at mile 19, which you have to reach in four hours or else get kicked off the course and ride home on the loser bus with a drill sergeant. I’m not sure if that’s actually true, but my dad swears that’s the case 🙂


Finally, I got to the bridge. I was so excited that I ran up and hugged my dad and almost cried. I was DOING IT. Without fancy gear or trackers, without anyone to run with, and despite the fact that I had every excuse in the book to opt out or quit – here I was. Proudly pushing through.


The rest of the race I ran simply because I wanted to be DONE. I let myself walk for 30 seconds at every mile marker, and found myself weaving through a sea of walkers for the last 5 miles. I hit the wall – the biggest, baddest, meanest wall I’ve ever encountered – right at mile 25. Shit.

I’ve gotten lucky in that I’ve never really bonked. I’ve gotten tired, or bored, or was in pain, but I never got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t continue. That last mile felt like hell on earth. It was the longest and worst part of the entire thing.
By the time I rolled around to the VERY UPHILL finish line (who did that???) I was totally gassed. It was an immense accomplishment and relief to finish. Plus, I found out that I hit a PR – 5:15:05. HELL YEA!


I am so happy and blessed to participate in this kickass event for a great, wonderful cause that I wholeheartedly believe in.

I can’t wait till next year 🙂

OORAH!

Marine Corps Marathon – Part 1!


Last weekend, my dad and I flew out to Washington, D.C. for the Marine Corps Marathon. In 2015, we completed the MCM as our very first marathon ever – both individually and together. It was one of the coolest and most touching thing we’ve ever done. So when registration for 2016 rolled around, my dad hopped on it immediately and bought us two kickass VIP registrations.

These beauties include two registrations, a 5k run and brunch the day before, a pasta carbo-load dinner the night before, a VIP bus to the start line and – my very favorite – VIP PORTA POTTYS. Nope, this is not a drill!


We both started training hard from the start, logging or pace and miles and always checking in on each other. Sadly, about halfway through my dad totally blew out his knee. I mean, possible surgery status.

We patiently waited for his knee to heal, but it just didn’t 😦 my dad was devastated, and we were both unsure if the race would even happen. It was our special thing, and it didn’t look like it was going to occur.

However, after tons of back and forth, we chose to DO IT. I was running, dad was supporting, and we were going to make the best of it. (or, as my dad said, he’d be at the bar until I crossed the finish line).


Let me say – WE HAD A TOTAL BLAST! My dad is always so much fun to travel with, and we made the most of our trip. We flew in to D.C. and hit the 5k and brunch in the morning.

One of the major perks of our VIP status was staying in the super swanky Gaylord Resort right on the Potomac River. All glossed floors, marble and gold, the place gleams from top to bottom. The coolest part is the 19-story atrium, that houses the u-shaped hotel and boasts a small village at its ground floor. Yep, you read that right – a brick road that winds down from the lobby into a cute little village of cottage-like shops, bars and cafes.


The next morning, I absolutely loved the 5K! It was a really fun, gorgeous run along the Potomac in perfect weather. The air was golden and green and crisp, and I made some friends along the route. It was a great way to stretch out my legs before the marathon.


The real treat was brunch, though – we heard an awesome speech from Bart Yasso, the Chief Running Officer at Runner’s World! I definitely freaked out a little – I’ve been reading his articles for years.



We took some time to run around D.C. and explore the city. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my Dad, so it was really sweet to just walk around and catch up on everything going on in our lives.


The night before the race, we headed back to the hotel just in time for our carbo-load dinner. We dined on big plates of salad and gluten free pasta and cookies and bananas. We met some other runners and heard an incredible, touching, moving speech from Native American activist and Olympic Gold Medalist Billy Mills.


It was the perfect speech before a race – especially a notoriously hilly & challenging one. I went to sleep more than ready to tackle the course 🙂

Marine Corps Marathon 2016!

  

 I’m stoked to announce that my father and I will be running the Marine Corps Marathon 2016 for the second year in a row! Last year, we embarked on our very first marathon for each of us and ran into every wall imaginable. Mental, emotional, physical, spiritual – you name it, we faced it. Needless to say, we learned a lot of lessons along the way.

This year, we’ll be lacing up wiser, stronger and better trained. We’re drafting a pre-training plan to build up miles slowly and smartly before we toe the start line on October 30th. After last year, we promised we would NOT be doing this again next year. Yet here we are, beyond excited to train together and run together in one of the best races in the country. Plus, I’ll be running with one of my favorite people on this planet.

  
I’m also excited to get back into a solid training plan. I’ve been playing a lot of soccer and running and working out on my own, but I love the changes my life and body take on as I tackle a training plan for months on end. I feel strong, sexy, happy and healthy – and find myself loving healthy food choices even more than usual.

I’m in a new apartment with a brand-spanking-new city to run in. So, congrats to everyone around the world that made it into the MCM Lottery – happy running!

 

Motivation Monday: Marathon Love

99ccab23e2764b5ea1f81790fc0bcf7cFalling in love with marathons is something I never expected to take over my life. My first affair with them was painful and abusive, and I was positive that our next run would end in similar tragedy. Yet, I gave the marathon one more chance to win my heart – and it did, with grace and gusto.

I’ll be totally honest: my first marathon was a painful, long, torturous disaster – or at least parts of it were. Running marathons is an endless cycle because you get super excited about running and training and can’t stop yourself from shouting it from the rooftops and bringing it up at every possible social event, because it is so. exciting. Next, you’re at the start line and pumped up by all the other runners. Then, you breeze through the first 12-18 miles and feel like a strong, sexy badass that could run a thousand marathons.

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Struggling through Mile 20

Finally, the tough part starts to kick in. Your muscles go from a dull, manageable ache to a sharp pain. You start to feel some serious burn on that muscle you strained a few months ago, or even that toe/ankle you broke a few years ago. And then, somewhere around mile 22-24, your bones begin to hurt and collapsing from some injury/death sounds promising and peaceful. Then you’re near the finish line, and there’s tons of strangers cheering you on and you can’t believe you made it this freakin’ far and you get pumped up by adrenaline and cross that damn finish line.

 

Finally, you get your t-shirt and medal you ran all those miles for and feel like such a rockstar you rush home to sign up for yet another marathon.

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This, my friends, is how it happens – at least at the first affair.
My second marathon was much different. I was nursing a sprained ankle and had just come off crutches. I probably shouldn’t have ran at all, but even the cries of friends, family and future consequence couldn’t keep us apart.

I toed the start line with high hope and found that the marathon loved me, too. I breezed through the first half without even walking. I found an easy, natural rhythm and skated by the next ten miles, stopping when the pain was causing me to limp and resuming my pace when it subsided. I’m pretty old-fashioned, so I left the painkillers and motrin at home. I remember being shocked as I crossed mile 22, and even more surprised as I eased down the hill at mile 24 and cruised through the finish line with only a slight limp and even less pain.

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All smiles at the finish of the Honolulu Marathon!

Now, marathons and I have quite a torrid love affair going on. I feel strong, sexy, happy, and healthy every single day. I look forward to continuing our romance with two half-marathons in the next six months and another Honolulu marathon at the end of the new year. I find myself eating healthier, sleeping better, and making wiser choices without much effort or thought.

It’s well worth the incessant hunger, constant eating, chafing, cramps, sprains, strains, pains, and struggle. Because I love running marathons – and marathons (for now) seem to love me, too.

Here’s a few running memes to make you laugh & relate 🙂 Happy running!

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2016: Back to Blogging!

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The New Year is all about fresh starts and clean slates, so I figured it was the perfect time to get back into this little blog of mine. These past few months have been a busy, crazy, chaotic flurry of changes – a new job, new people in my life, another marathon, and lots of injuries and adventures in between. Now that 2015 is officially in the past, I’m excited to start this beautiful New Year and fill it with travels, races, fitness, and lots of blogging, too.

The past year felt like a transition from ‘kind of a hot mess’ to ‘happy.’ I’m a little older and wiser, and have learned to use running, soccer, and good friends as therapy. I ran my first two marathons in two months, and am already signed up for a full and two halves in 2016. I’ve finally got myself grounded in so many areas of my life, and am beginning to feel happy, healthy, and free once more.

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Marine Corps Marathon (left) & Honolulu Marathon (right)

I’m not a huge believer in resolutions, but I do firmly believe in intentions. We can all take a moment to reflect and decide the direction we want our lives to go, or how we’d truly like to live. Some may set intentions to be more forgiving, outgoing, and social; others may focus on building their internal self and finding inner peace. For me, I seek to find balance; a harmony between all the hobbies and attributes that comprise who I am.

I’ve truly missed blogging and all the wonderful women (and men!) I’ve met and connected with over they years. I still read most of my friends’ blogs consistently, and am excited to contribute my own posts to the cool little community we’ve built.

I look forward to reading, posting, and connecting like my old self! Miss you all J

Love & Aloha,

Nikki

 

Marine Corps Marathon

  
The Greek soldier Pheidippides, the first person to ever run a marathon, died. Only a runner would take this story and craft it into a full-fledged sport, enjoyed by hundreds of thousands across the globe every single year. This past weekend,my father and I conquered that tumultuous 26.2 miles at the 40th annual Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.
We heard warnings about mile 20 walls, black toenails, nipple chafing and the like. While our nipples survived, only a few of my dad’s toenails were sacrificed. And at mile 20, we didn’t hit he proverbial wall. We hit an infamous bridge, which served as a metaphorically unconquerable mountain. Except we did conquer it and crossed the finish line, running side by side from start to finish.
I’ve achieved a few things in my life, but nothing compares to the sense of accomplishment from finishing my first marathon. We got to support a great cause – my dad has been a marine for over twenty years – and run in a fabulous city, with my aunt and cousin I rarely get to see cheering us on. I’m immensely proud of my father, who at 52 years of age finished this race with gusto, back injury and all. I feel blessed and thankful to have this kick ass experience with my dad, the human that gave me my lifelong love for running, sports and travel.
When I look back and contemplate things I could have done differently, most are out of my control. If only both of us hadn’t gotten injured during training; If only we had time to warm up, hydrate and stretch before the race. We got to the start area two hours ahead of time, yet spent all of it jam-packed like sardines waiting to get through security. We made it to the start line with 45 seconds left on the countdown, which by that point had resorted to pure chaos.

  
The corrals were ignored, the crowd was thick, and it felt more like a start mob than a starting line. Even worse, the crowd bottlenecked up at several points throughout the course – all the way up to mile 10. It took away from the natural beauty of the course as it wound from old-town city streets and jazz bands to the quiet of breathtaking forests and rivers with nothing but our own footfalls as background noise. I fell in love with the falling leaves and multicolored trees and perfect, chilly weather. Yet it was frustrating when we found our groove but were physically unable to move past the crowd.
Our first objective was to “beat the bridge,” a timed close-off where stragglers would be pulled off the course. And we did, by over an hour, perfectly on pace for a 10:00/mile finish. Around mile 18 reality seriously started to set in. My feet throbbed, my supposedly-healed sprained ankle ached, and I felt a deep-rooted exhaustion incomparable to anything I’d ever experienced. It was a lot more painful than I expected; and it made sense, since that’s the farthest I’d ever ran during my months of training.

  
After we beat the bridge, spirits were high but my dad’s suffering was higher. He went from a smile to a grimace real quick. His back, which had ‘healed’ a few weeks prior, flared up angrily. It was s bad that I could actually see his muscle spasming. A normal person would have headed to the med tent, but my dad is both a runner and a marine. So, we walked and he painstakingly jogged along until the finish line, when we took off and ran the last hill. Because it’s the marines so they just had to put a hill at the finish line, right? Right.
Our official finish time was 5:59:32, only 3:43/mile off from our goal pace. Which means that, without his injury, we likely would have made our goal pace. But I feel even prouder that we still finished despite the horrible start and his injury. And we did it together, because no marine – or dad or daughter – ever gets left behind.

  
I loved being cheered on by an awesome crowd armed with hilarious signs,getting served water and Gatorade from hot young marines, and being part of such a unique event. Plus, we were barely sore the next day – aside from my dad’s back- and got to explore the city the day after the race. I’m so blessed to finally have that daunting 26.2 under my belt! And this experience is one I will remember for the rest of my life.

Taper Time!

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It’s time to taper, which might be my most favorite week of this entire process. While I do love running and all the physical, mental and spiritual changes it’s brought, I’ve felt really burned out the last week. When I woke up this morning and realized it was time to taper, I was stoked. Especially since I had a bit of an accident last night at soccer.

Last night was my first full-length, full-field soccer game in years. I was beyond happy and full of energy from all my marathon training, but unfortunately my ankle rolled right before the first half.


Being me, of course, I rested for about fifteen minutes, had a friend tape it up, borrowed an ankle brace and headed back out. Naturally, it was only so long before the ankle rolled out of place again. This time, it was much worse.

Today I’m hobbling around, but thankful i at least made it to taper week with a minor injury. I’ll now have no chioce but to rest up for my marathon on the 25th and am confident I’ll have a full recovery.

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Even though I am burnt out on running, I’d still have a tough time tapering and staying off my feet. Now, though, I have no choice but to dream about running and freak out about the race.

Happy Tapering!

 

Motivation Monday: Staying Fit & Happy While Injured

  Being injured is no walk in the park. It’s upsetting, frustrating, show-stopping, and causes general panic among the most seasoned athletes and runners. When friends of mine get hurt, I joke, Hey, what’s so bad about resting and watching Netflix for a week? When it happens to me, I want to throw my computer throw a window. I’m so bored from watching Netflix and being so still. The reason I run is because I’m restless; now, all that energy has nowhere to go. Except to seriously interfere with my sanity.

I’ve been off the road for about a week and a half, after injuring my back from a colossal case of overtraining. I was loving the changes in my body and energy levels so much that I got too crazy and woke up one morning physically unable to get out of bed. Back strains are no joke – it’s humbling how a little pain here and there can derail almost any activities or plans. The back is the boss of the body, and mine was forcing me to do nothing but rest.

  
Despite the pain, I’m shocked by how quickly I bounced back. The first day, I was convinced I’d be out of the gym & trails for at least a month. Yet, somehow, I felt better the next day….and the next. I was healing fast, and today, I’m finally read to tackle a short run and see how I feel.

Being injured after building up such a solid base and months of consistent good eating and training taught me a few things about being injured. While I’m no expert, here’s what I learned 🙂

1. Taking good care of yourself = faster healing

When we take good care of ourselves whole-heartedly – which means getting enough sleep, eating healthfully, and working out consistently – our bodies reward us. Particularly in times of injured strife. When we function well as a whole, we’re able to bounce back a lot faster.

 2. Nutrition is key

No matter how tough your workouts are, it’s the kitchen where abs are made & injuries are healed. Protein, potassium, flavonoids, antioxidants, iron, magnesium…they all aid in healing. Since I’ve been out, I’ve been shooting for at least 100g of protein a day to help my muscles, tendons and ligaments sort themselves out.

3.Keep it active

Rest is super important, but there’s a difference between laying-there-helplessly-all-day rest and active rest. Active rest means there’s lots of (gentle) stretching, foam rolling, icing, elevating, compression, and movement happening to facilitate healing. Even when I could barely move, I forced myself through some painstakingly gentle movements and stretches, followed by ice and a nap. The most important thing is to keep the rest of the body functional. Gentle yoga and stretching are great ways to let the body heal without losing strength & flexibility.

4.Rest is crucial

Once I felt a tiny bit better (not healed, but just better than before) it took every inch of self control to keep myself on the couch and off the trails. The problem is that a lot of runners and avid fitness freaks get hurt, rest for a few days, and then go back out there and go HAM – thus undoing all the rest they’ve already done. Unless you want to be on the bench for another week, it’s more cost effective to rest a few more days instead.

Aloha Friday: Running in Paradise

    
Hawaii is known for its warm weather, beautiful beaches and tropical atmosphere. But my side of the island is even better.

Kaneohe boasts breezy trade winds, a breathtaking sailboat-dotted bay and the majestic koolau mountains. The cool weather, hills and diverse landscape make it the perfect place to run. Even in the August heat, I’m blessed about the town I call home.

  
My favorite are my long runs, because I run from the foothills of he koolaus down to the touristy Kailua beach and into the flatlands of waimanalo. I’m either running at the base of Jurassic park-like mountains or along the glittering coastline.

  My 15 mile run last Sunday was he longest I’d ever ran, ever. And the surroundings made it an awesome and surprisingly easy experience! I even picked fruit along the way and munched on mangoes and guava instead of icky chemical energy gels. Plus, there’s a certain beauty to eating fruit right from the land.
  
My 12 mile long run the week before was a little tougher, but still gorgeous. I took a more hilly route and fought some humid rain, but running under the shade of palm trees and along the foothills made it so much better.

I feel so blessed to live where I do. Sure, Hawaii is insanely expensive, crowded and full of tourists, but it’s a totally different life when you choose to make the island home.

Love & Aloha,

Nikki 

Motivation Monday: Marathonspiration

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Marathon training has crept into every aspect of my life lately. I’m always hungry, I’m always tired, and eternally stuck in runner-laundry purgatory. I’m constantly ducking into the copy room at work to  stretch. I’m asleep by 9pm most nights, given that I’ve somehow managed to stave off my nonstop hunger.

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Side effects aside, I am starting to really see my body changing. That lovely line that runs along the side of my calf is now a deep, sexy groove from my foot all the way up to my hip. My legs have leaned out, my abs have flattened, and the slightest hint ofrunner’s abs are starting to come through. I find myself craving healthy, beautiful foods like bananas, almond butter, vegan protein shakes and avocados. My happiness has runneth over.32bded4327cc079fc30de86fb8a8bcb0_400x400

Running has become such a crazy addiction that I’m heartbroken when my rest days roll around. Having a solid plan and a goal to work towards has cleared out so much chaos in my life. I can tune out, focus, and burn off all the stress, worry, and clutter. Every run feels like a victory.

I gathered up some of the best marathonspiration I could find to get you through a tough monday – since, like me, you’re probably stuck at the office daydreaming of your next PR.

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