As I begin training for my next goal half marathon, I keep reflecting on my early summer marathon. Yes, it was fun for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thinking about my first marathon? Oh that was so hard and I experienced how easy it would be to just throw in the towel and call it quits. I also gained a newfound admiration for anyone who’s ever completed one, no matter the time it took them or why they were doing it, they did it. Here’s some major differences between the Charlevoix Marathon I raced in June and my first marathon, the Detroit Free Press Marathon, I ran in October 2015, a little over 2.5 years before:

  • Chafing – during training and my race this time around I experience chafing, especially at my sports bra band. Didn’t have that problem before. I still used Vaseline before my race and this was the end result:

    oh just a little scabbing
  • Underarm irritation – not this time! Yes! I’ve since been purchasing “wicking” shirts and tank tops. Most of the time I don’t mind wearing a cotton tee for a short run (it’s hot, get over it). But during early morning hot and humid long runs for my first 26.2 I had rough irritation under my arms because even though I knew not to wear cotton I still opted for a white, cotton tank top. Probably made this poor decision based on the fact that the fabric clung to me so it wouldn’t be loose when it absorbed the sweat and because white was a perfect color to try to keep me cool in the sun. Don’t worry, I haven’t done this again.

    After a ten mile run on Labor Day 2015
  • No emergency bathroom stops – at least (what feels like) none. Over the years I’ve done a much better job at skipping the brewery and bars and being much more observant about what I ate before an upcoming long run. Needless to say, I learned from those emergency stops in 2015. And who am I kidding?! Us runners have some pretty darn good funny stories (once we get over how embarrassing it was). So basically I did pretty well avoiding those precarious situations this time around.
  • I ran in the rain – Not just a light sprinkle but a straight-up downpour. Heck, it poured and was thunder-storming while I was out this morning. I’m fairly certain if it was raining during my first 26.2 training days, I would *maybe* run on the treadmill. Or I just skipped it altogether. And it was a good thing I did go out in the rain (or not turn back early because it started to rain) because I was prepared for the 20 miles of rain during my race. And I think you burn more calories in the rain. More external forces you’re fighting, right?
  • I knew with certainty when I nailed my workouts and when I didn’t – In 2015 I didn’t have a GPS-fitness watch. I recorded time on a Timex watch, manually clicking splits along the way at places where I estimated the mile markers were when I pre-mapped my route ahead of time. <deep breath> Yeah, so technology is cool and this time around when I looked back at my splits, I knew it was correct (or super duper close). I know I did some tempo runs then but really just how close were they to my goal pace? I believe the watch was a big part of my successful race.
    1. You can’t cheat yourself with time or distance with this watch.
    2. “Oh a quarter-mile short of your goal, OK go back down the street to make it even.” – better motivation!
    3. Both during the workout or when reviewing later – I learned when I should pick it up or ease up.
    4. It’s a confidence booster. “Hey, Carmen, look at this, this daunting workout is over, and not only did you hit your goal splits but you did it in the rain.” (Of course it was raining.)

      Note the old Timex watch & my ingenuity to tape my route to my water bottle
  • I had company for more of my runs – Part of me did worry that if I did all my long runs and tempo runs with a friend biking alongside me, would I still be able to run the pace when I’m solo on the course? I sure was able to and then some. It’s no longer a concern. I loved the company and it made a long grueling tempo run a little bit better.

    Emily and I after our ten mile bike/run this morning, with half of it in rain
  • Better training notes – In addition to filling out a training schedule/calendar on Excel or on paper, I started logging in a training journal so I could add extra notes like how the run really went, my splits, was I motivated to get going, etc. Actually, I started doing this last year, in 2017, using one of Runner’s World paper log booklets that came with the magazine at some point. I didn’t have another one so I had to buy a different pre-made journal for this year.
    Here’s a picture of the log I made for the my first marathon. I wasn’t kidding about how much I went to yoga to cross-train.

    My first marathon log kinda sorta following the Hanson’s Marathon Method, just not very well
  • I bought more running shoes – While I definitely am logging more miles this time around, I wasn’t going to let a worn-out pair of shoes be my limiting reagent. I think I went through three pairs of shoes with my last pair being purchased a week before the race. Last time I went through one pair of shoes, maybe for the entire year, who knows.
  • Side stitches – During my first marathon race I had side stitches starting half way through (at points I had to walk) and wow, that’s probably similar to what being stabbed feels like. Although, I didn’t experience this during training, it could be because I was so nervous before the race I didn’t eat as much or as normally as I did before my long runs in training. Never had them since, thankfully, and that leads me to one last difference.
  • Eating – As mentioned, I was careful about what I ate, but I also tried to eat more nutritiously. Eating real sandwiches the night before and/or for breakfast was key. I think they’re better than pasta. If I ate more before I ran (lucky for me I can eat sometimes even immediately before running without a problem) then I didn’t need as many chews or goos along the way.

More talk about eating – thanks to the running fam of Twitter, my secret santa gift was a pre-ordered Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. book (cookbook #2 by Eylse Kopecky and Shalane Flanagan). This came in a week or two ago and I finally got to try some new recipes. The beet smoothie wasn’t bad. But this was my sister’s reaction:

Image result for gif schmidt new girl
From Giphy

I did add Hershey syrup after the initial taste but with the beets in there the syrup couldn’t possibly wipe out all the health benefits, right?

Beet smoothie from the new cook book


And last night I cooked the sweet potato and got the dry ingredients ready for the Sweet Potato Waffles. After my ten miles this morning I made them with eggs. I’m thinking waffle makers are perfect for your most photogenic food pictures.


For the first time ever, I’m going to follow an actual training plan for a fall half marathon. Let me ramble for a second. I’ve never actually followed a training plan for a half; always did my own thing adding speed workouts and long runs, etc. But this time, I’m using the Hanson’s (Half-) Marathon Method as a guide since it worked so darn well for Charlevoix. When I decided (to try to closely) follow the plan, I had to think, “Am I an advanced half marathon runner so I could pick the advanced plan?” [I think] I’ve ran 13 half races. I guess I could be considered an advanced half-marathoner. The weekly goal mileage is in the high 40s and caps at 50. I will differ from this by keeping my weekly mileage in the low 40s, at a max. Mainly because I don’t want my fall training to become as intense as it was for my marathon. So maybe I can hope for a half-marathon PR since I haven’t been able to break it since 2014.

My 2014 half marathon training plan holding my PR of 1:50 something at Brooksie Way. How did I even do it?

While I’m at it, here’s my training log for my first ever half-marathon in April 2013. I finished right at 2 hours. I got a lot of cross-training in, too. Man, I loved that Thursday kickboxing class.

The race was the first weekend after finals


I hope I get to race a 5k this fall. I haven’t ran a 5k race since January. I am signed up for the Brooksie Way in September. I love it too much to skip. I’d have some major fear of missing out. I have some yoga events to attend this fall. And I’ll be going back to run the Detroit Free Press half, but I won’t be racing it. And if all goes to plan, my goal race will be the Indianapolis Monumental half marathon in November.

Stay tuned because next month I’ll have another Smoothiefest, a day my awesome friends will blindly taste test a variety of smoothie recipes. If you have any smoothie recipes you use, please send them to me!

What are some differences you noticed between your first and latest race? What races and goals do you have left this year?