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Browsing Tag: half marathon all 50 states

Inspiring feat: Double the Distance Half Marathon challenge

For avid runners looking for an exciting weekend run the states challenge, running a back-to-back half marathon through the midwest offers a perfect blend of athletic accomplishment and travel adventure. This itinerary not only provides the thrill of completing two races in two different states but also the opportunity to explore the unique charm and attractions of both cities. Here’s a guide to help you make the most of this exhilarating weekend.

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Day 1: Holland, Michigan Park to Park half marathon

Race Day Highlights

Start your weekend in the picturesque city of Holland, Michigan, renowned for its Dutch heritage and beautiful waterfront. The Park to Park Half Marathon offers a scenic route along Lake Michigan and through the city’s quaint neighborhoods.

Where to Stay
  • Courtyard by Marriott Holland Downtown: Conveniently located near the starting line, this hotel offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations.
  • Race Day Highlights

    Start your weekend in the picturesque city of Holland, Michigan, renowned for its Dutch heritage and beautiful waterfront. The Park to Park Half Marathon offers a scenic route along Lake Michigan and through the city’s quaint neighborhoods.

    Where to Stay

    • Courtyard by Marriott Holland Downtown: Conveniently located near the starting line, this hotel offers modern amenities and comfortable accommodations.

    Where to Eat

    • Deboer Bakkerij: A perfect pre-race breakfast spot, offering a variety of Dutch pastries and hearty breakfast options.
    • Butch’s Dry Dock: Ideal for a post-race meal, this restaurant offers an extensive menu with local and international dishes, along with a great selection of wines and beers.

    Things to Do

    • Windmill Island Gardens: Home to a 250-year-old working Dutch windmill, this is a must-visit for a taste of Holland’s heritage.
    • Holland State Park: Relax and enjoy the stunning views of Lake Michigan, or take a leisurely walk along the beach.
    • Tulip Time Festival (if visiting in May): Experience vibrant tulip displays and traditional Dutch performances.

    Day 2: Chicago, Illinois Lifetime Chicago half marathon

    half marathon

    Travel Tips

    After completing the Holland Half Marathon, head to Chicago, a bustling metropolis with a rich cultural scene. The drive from Holland to Chicago is approximately 2.5 hours, giving you ample time to rest and prepare for the next race. The road trip drive also gives you plenty of time to create a fun dance and car ride karaoke along the way!

    Race Day Highlights

    The Lifetime Chicago Half Marathon often takes runners through scenic routes including Lake Shore Drive, offering stunning views of Lake Michigan and the city’s skyline. The race is well-organized, with enthusiastic crowd support and plenty of hydration stations.

    Where to Stay

    • Sable at Navy Pier Chicago, Curio Collection by Hilton: Staying at the Sable at Navy Pier ensures that you’re in the heart of the action, with easy access to the pier’s attractions, dining, and entertainment, as well as being close to many of Chicago’s other iconic landmarks.

    Where to Eat

    • For a dining experience with breathtaking views from one of Chicago’s tallest buildings, head to the Signature Room at the 95th in the John Hancock Center. Known for its upscale American cuisine and stunning panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan. One tip is to Make a reservation to secure a window table for the best views, especially around sunset or at night when the city lights up.
    • Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria: You can’t miss the Chicago deep dish pizza! It’s almost like a lasagna-pizza-gooey-cheesiness dish!

    Things to Do

    • Millennium Park: Home to the iconic Cloud Gate (The Bean) sculpture, this park is a great place for a post-race stroll.
    • Navy Pier: Enjoy stunning lake views, ride the Ferris wheel, or explore the various shops and eateries.
    • Art Institute of Chicago: One of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, perfect for a cultural afternoon.
    • The Magnificent Mile: Indulge in some retail therapy at Chicago’s premier shopping district.

    Tips for Back-to-Back Races

    1. Hydrate and Refuel: Ensure you stay well-hydrated and consume enough protein and fiber to sustain your blood sugar between races.
    2. Rest and Recover: Take advantage of the travel time to rest your legs. Consider light stretching or a massage to aid recovery.
    3. Pace Yourself: Remember, running back-to-back races is a test of endurance. Pace yourself accordingly to avoid burnout.

    Running back-to-back half marathons in Holland and Chicago is not just a test of physical endurance but also an opportunity to immerse yourself in the unique experiences both cities have to offer. From the serene beauty of Holland to the vibrant energy of Chicago, this weekend adventure promises unforgettable memories and a sense of incredible achievement. Happy running!

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    The Dynamic Impact of Micronutrients: How to Achieve Peak Performance

    Running isn’t just about putting one foot in front of the other; it’s a holistic experience that requires proper nutrition to reach peak performance. Macronutrients– carbohydrates, proteins, and fats- often steal the spotlight. It’s the lesser-known heroes, the micronutrients, that play a crucial role in supporting a runner’s journey. Let’s explore the importance of micronutrients in running and how they contribute to overall performance and well-being.

    What are Micronutrients?

    Micronutrients encompass a variety of vitamins, minerals and organic acids that are essential for various bodily functions. These include vitamins such as vitamin A, B, C, D, E, K, and carotenoids. Minerals include calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and organic acids such as lactic acid, citric acid, choline and taurine. While they are required in smaller quantities compared to macronutrients, their importance should not be underestimated.

    Vitamins role on Running Performance

    Vitamin A

    Vitamin A’s role in bolstering immune function ensures runners can maintain consistent training without succumbing to illness. With muscle repair, promoting bone health and acting as an antioxidant, vitamin A aids in minimizing the risk of injuries. Also, vitamin A reduces exercise-induced inflammation, contributing to enhanced endurance and faster recovery times.

    B Vitamins

    B vitamins include thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin (B7), folate (B9), and cobalamin (B12). whew, those are a mouthful! Let’s refer to these as the B complex vitamins. These vitamins act as coenzymes in various metabolic pathways crucial for energy production. They play a synergistic role in macronutrient metabolism, ensuring a steady supply of fuel for our running endeavors. Moreover, B6 and B12, are involved in red blood cell production, contributing to optimal oxygen delivery to working muscles. Incorporating a diverse array of B vitamin-rich foods like whole grains, lean meats, dairy products, legumes, and leafy greens into your diet can help sustain energy levels and support peak performance.

    Vitamin C

    For runners, maintaining a robust immune system is paramount to sustaining consistent training and performance. Enter vitamin C, a potent antioxidant renowned for its immune-boosting properties. This vitamin helps protect against oxidative stress induced by intense exercise, reducing the risk of illness and promoting faster recovery. Additionally, vitamin C supports collagen synthesis, aiding in the repair of connective tissues and minimizing the risk of injuries such as tendonitis. Load up on vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli to fortify your immune defenses.

    Vitamin D

    Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin”. Beyond its well-known contribution to bone health, vitamin D influences various physiological processes crucial for endurance and recovery in runners. Adequate levels of vitamin D are associated with improved muscle strength and coordination reducing the risk of injury during runs. Its impact on mood regulation and mental well-being further enhances running performance by promoting motivation and resilience. As such, ensuring sufficient vitamin D intake, whether through sunlight exposure or dietary sources like fatty fish and fortified foods, is essential for runners seeking to maximize their potential.

    Vitamin E

    As runners push their bodies to the limit, they generate oxidative stress, leading to muscle damage and fatigue. Vitamin E swoops in as a potent antioxidant, neutralizing harmful free radicals and reducing exercise-induced inflammation, ultimately promoting faster recovery. Moreover, vitamin E supports cardiovascular health by protecting against the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which can contribute to plaque buildup in the vessels. Enhanced blood flow and reduced muscle damage translate to improved endurance, enabling runners to sustain higher levels of exertion for longer durations. To harness the benefits of vitamin E, incorporating sources like nuts, seeds, leafy greens, and vegetable oils into the diet is essential.

    Carotenoids

    Carotenoids are a group of pigments found in various fruits and vegetables, and wield a notable influence on exercise performance and recovery. By scavenging free radicals generated during physical activity, beta-carotene aids in protecting cells and tissues from damage. Moreover, certain carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, have been linked to improved eye health and visual acuity, enhancing coordination and agility during exercise.

    Minerals

    Calcium

    Calcium is an essential mineral involved in muscle contraction, enabling runners to move efficiently as well as regulating nerve impulses, ensuring proper communication between the brain and muscles. Additionally, calcium contributes to maintaining electrolyte balance, supporting optimal hydration levels and preventing muscle cramps during prolonged workouts.

    Iron

    One of the most crucial micronutrients for runners is iron. This mineral serves as the cornerstone of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting oxygen from the lungs to the muscles. Adequate iron levels are paramount for maximizing aerobic capacity and staving off fatigue during long runs. Without sufficient iron intake, runners may experience decreased energy levels, impaired endurance, and even symptoms of anemia. Incorporating iron-rich foods like lean meats, leafy greens, legumes, and fortified grains into your diet can help maintain optimal iron levels and support peak performance.

    Magnesium

    Magnesium is a micronutrient that often flies under the radar but plays a pivotal role in energy metabolism and muscle function. As runners, we rely on magnesium to convert carbohydrates into energy, regulate muscle contractions, and maintain electrolyte balance. Deficiencies in magnesium can manifest as muscle cramps, fatigue, and impaired performance. To ensure optimal magnesium intake, incorporate magnesium-rich foods like nuts, seeds, whole grains, and leafy greens into your diet, and consider magnesium supplementation if necessary.

    Quercetin

    Quercetin

    Potassium

    During exercise, potassium works alongside sodium to regulate fluid balance and hydration levels within the body. Potassium is also involved in nerve signaling and muscle contractions, including the contraction of the heart muscle, which is essential for maintaining a regular heartbeat. Potassium also plays a role in supporting kidney function by aiding in the elimination of waste products.

    Zinc

    Zinc plays a role in immune function, helping to support the body’s defenses against infections and illnesses that could sideline training efforts. Involved in protein synthesis, zinc aids in the repair and growth of muscle tissue damaged during exercise. Furthermore, zinc contributes to the production of testosterone, a hormone important for muscle growth and strength.

    Organic Acids

    Organic acids, such as citric acid and malic acid, are involved in the Krebs cycle, also known as the citric acid cycle, which is a central pathway for energy production in cells. During exercise, organic acids help break down carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to generate adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the primary source of energy for muscle contractions. organic acids can help regulate pH levels in the body, buffering the acidic byproducts produced during intense exercise. While organic acids are naturally produced in the body, certain foods and supplements, such as citrus fruits and tart cherry juice, contain high levels of these compounds and may offer additional benefits.

    From providing energy and oxygen transport to supporting immune function, bone health, and muscle repair, micronutrients contribute to every aspect of a runner’s journey. Ensuring sufficient intake of micronutrients through a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, as well as supplements when needed, not only optimize running performance but also promote longevity and overall vitality.

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    Run to the Stars: Boston bound, NASA unbound

    Hey fellow running enthusiasts! Lace up those running shoes and get ready for an out-of-this-world adventure in Huntsville, Alabama. This charming city is not only a haven for avid runners who are Boston bound, but also home to the iconic NASA Space and Rocket Center. This makes it the perfect destination for a weekend full of fitness and cosmic exploration.

    Location: Huntsville, Alabama

    Date: September 11, 2022

    Distance: 13.1 miles

    Lace up for the “Boston or Bust” Half Marathon

    The Boston or Bust Half Marathon is not just your typical race; it’s a celebration of determination and the pursuit of personal goals. The fast and flat route winds through the picturesque trees of Huntsville. But beware, the humidity was pretty intense and took time to adjust to. Another race that guides you through the overarching trees that I highly recommend is the famous Idaho potato half marathon. This run offers runners a unique blend of southern charm and urban beauty. The camaraderie among participants with the small intimate race created an uplifting atmosphere that fueled my every step.

    As I approached the finish line with the iconic Boston Marathon qualifying goal in mind, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment. Although I am nowhere near a Boston qualifying time, I still completed race through the tough humidity and continue on the Boston bound journey. The support from both volunteers and fellow runners made the experience unforgettable.

    NASA Space and Rocket Center

    Exploring the NASA Space and Rocket Center: No visit to Northern Alabama is complete without a trip to the NASA Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. Just a short drive from the marathon venue, this iconic space exploration facility offers an immersive experience for visitors of all ages. From awe-inspiring rocket displays to interactive exhibits detailing the history of space exploration, the center provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of astronauts and the marvels of outer space.

    Travis in his Astronaut suit

    Highlights at the Space and Rocket Center:

    1. Space Shuttle Pathfinder: Get up close and personal with the Space Shuttle Pathfinder, a full-scale model used for astronaut training.
    2. Saturn V Rocket: Marvel at the Saturn V Rocket. The iconic vehicle that carried astronauts to the moon during the Apollo missions.
    3. Interactive Exhibits: Engage with hands-on exhibits, simulators, and educational displays that make learning about space exploration a fun and enriching experience.

    Soak in the local experience

    Huntsville isn’t just about running and space exploration; it also boasts a vibrant local scene. After the race and museum visit, unwind at one of Huntsville’s charming local eateries or craft breweries. The city has a burgeoning food and beverage scene, offering a variety of culinary delights that cater to all tastes.

    Huntsville, Alabama, provides a unique blend of physical activity, intellectual stimulation, and local charm. Whether you’re conquering the Boston or Bust Half Marathon, exploring the NASA Space and Rocket Center, or savoring the local flavors, this destination promises an unforgettable experience for runners and space enthusiasts alike. So, lace up those running shoes for your last opportunity before the Boston marathon cutoff. Get ready for a stellar adventure in the Rocket City!

    Looking for more Out of this world runs? The Zion at night half marathon, Great Ferry Race and Happy Girls Run are all beautiful, highly recommended runs along the West coast. Check ’em out!

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    How to use brain chemicals to improve running and reduce anxiety


    Running a half marathon is an exhilarating experience that challenges both the mind and body. While physical training and endurance play crucial roles in completing this feat, another critical factor often goes overlooked: neuroscience. The intricate network of neurotransmitters in our brain greatly influences our performance during long-distance running and helps reduce anxiety. Let’s explore the impact of neurotransmitters on running a half marathon and shed light on how understanding their functions can enhance our training and race-day experiences.

    1) Endorphins – Our Natural Performance Enhancer:


    Endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers and mood boosters, released during intense exercise such as running. These neurotransmitters not only reduce pain perception but also create a state of euphoria, commonly referred to as “runner’s high.” Increased endorphin levels have been associated with improved endurance, decreased fatigue, heightened motivation, and increased tolerance for discomfort.

    2) Dopamine – Fueling Motivation:


    Dopamine is known as the “reward” neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of pleasure and motivation. During a half marathon run, dopamine helps maintain focus by rewarding small achievements along the way. By setting smaller goals throughout the race (such as reaching each mile marker), runners can trigger dopamine release to stay motivated mentally.

    3) Serotonin – Regulating Mood & Confidence:


    Serotonin plays an essential role in maintaining mood balance within our brain. As physical exertion increases during a half marathon, serotonin production is boosted significantly. My physical exertion was particularly high while pushing a double stroller in Vacation Race’s Grand Teton half marathon, but that race was the most rewarding to date. Higher serotonin levels contribute to elevated mood states that improve mental resilience against stress and fatigue while fostering self-confidence.

    4) GABA – Reducing Anxiety & Stress:


    Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) acts as an inhibitory neurotransmitter responsible for calming neural activity within our brains. During long-distance running events like marathons or half marathons, GABA helps reduce anxiety and stress levels, enabling runners to achieve a more relaxed and focused state of mind. This neurotransmitter aids in warding off negative thoughts or self-doubt, thus improving overall performance.

    5) Norepinephrine – Boosting Alertness & Concentration:


    Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter associated with focus, attention, and alertness. During a half marathon run, norepinephrine is released in response to the physical exertion, heightening mental clarity and focus. This heightened concentration reduces stress by allowing runners to make split-second decisions necessary for maintaining pace and navigating the racecourse effectively.

    Understanding how neurotransmitters affect running performance can significantly enhance our approach to training for a half marathon. By tapping into the power of endorphins to boost endurance or utilizing dopamine as motivation fuel, athletes can optimize their mental state during training sessions and reduce anxiety on race day. Additionally, balancing serotonin levels helps maintain positive moods throughout the journey while GABA mitigates anxiety-inducing thoughts.

    To succeed in running long-distance events like a half marathon requires not only physical strength but also mental fortitude. Harnessing the power of neurotransmitters through proper training techniques can help runners conquer challenges that may arise during races. As we deepen our understanding of how these brain chemicals influence our performance, we unlock new avenues for personal growth both within sports and beyond.

    Next stop, Too cold to hold half marathon in Austin, TX!

    we run the states

    Decade of glorious Running: How to travel each state racing Half Marathons

    Neural bias is the concept that, most people have a skewed idea of their accomplishments over time. If I ask you, How much do you expect to change in the next 10 years? Likely many will answer, ‘probably not much’. However if I reflect the same question, How much have you changed over the past 10 years? your answer will likely be, A LOT. In my case, 10 years from now, I still anticipate to be on a journey to travel each state racing half marathons, practicing as a nurse practitioner, and raising my kids; I don’t expect much to change. I originally read a decade of running from Runningtotravel. And what perfect timing it is to review, as I ran my first race exactly ten years ago…

    2012 San Francisco, CA

    I had zero experience running. The furthest I had ever run was the one-mile that was enforced in high school as part of the P.E. program. Even that one mile, (way back in 2004, may I add) was a slow jog walk. Still to this day, I don’t know what enticed me to run my first half marathon. My best friend was interested in the idea of running a race, and generally you tend to follow characteristics of those closest to you. So we both thought, why not?

    If other people could run a half marathon, we could too.

    So we signed up for Diva’s San Francisco half marathon. I don’t remember much else about that first race except, I never had any intention of signing up for another race ever again. That one run was supposed to be a one-time deal. Accomplish the goal, and then move on. Well we finished that race with a high five across the finish line! and the running itch began to travel each state.

    2013 Humboldt Redwoods, CA & Puerto Rico

    So what do you do when you feel on top of the world accomplishing your first half marathon? You got it, sign up for something bigger and better. Avenue of the Giants Marathon. This time we actually had intention of training properly for our endevour. This was before we had kids- or many responsibilities- so most of our time was centered around running. We trained up to 20 consecutive miles in Lake Tahoe elevation and felt pretty darn prepared to rock our first full marathon.

    Let’s put it this way, this was my first and Only Full marathon. The mind grows weary after that many miles. After mile 23 my body and mind were both exhausted and I stopped pushing. I did finish the race, coming in over 5 hours. But this full marathon taught me to travel each state for half marathon’s as they are more more my vibe.

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    Avenue of the Giants Marathon

    I haven’t written much about running Diva’s Puerto Rico half marathon, but it was definitely worth the adventure. I was 11 weeks pregnant with my first child and had a shirt made for the announcement. Unfortunately, my luggage didn’t make the connection flight and I was left running in somebody else’s clothing and shoes. Add some pregnancy nausea, vomiting every mile along the course, and a downpour of rain; needless to say this was not my favorite run. I ended up sleeping 36 hours straight after the race, only waking long enough to take a sip of water and vomit. Running a half marathon pregnant was a lot harder than I expected.

    2014 Las Vegas, NV Running the strip at night

    Running the Las Vegas strip at night is an experience like no other. It really is magical to feel like the center of attention in one of the most iconic cities in America.

    This happens to be one of my worst running experiences to date. I was definitely not used to running at night, and being sleep deprived as a new 5-month postpartum mom, I did not prepare accordingly. I had expected a hot desert night so I wore shorts and a tank. And to my surprise, the night started spitting out snow! I also had expected food options at the venue and there were none once you entered the gates. So I started this run after 12 hours fasting. I crossed the finish line nearly crying in pain and cold, and my husband had to carry me back to our hotel. There was no celebrating on the Vegas strip for us that night.

    2015 Sisters, OR

    Sisters, OR is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to go back and visit. I believe that is one of the most amazing parts of this We Run the States journey, to discover all the beauty America has to offer. Jenn and I made a road trip up to Oregon, belting 2000’s hits with the radio the entire way, of course.

    This was a trail run entirely downhill. I pushed my pace a little too hard in the beginning, hoping to break the under 2 hour mark that I had not trained for. The last mile was grueling and I planned to frown across the finish line.

    The announcer read my name, “Laura Orange…. Orange you glad you came to Sisters?” The innocence of the joke made me laugh and the photographer caught me smiling across the finish.

    2016 no travel to a new state

    Do you ever wish you could jump in the dolorian time machine from back to the future and do something over? I did not run a half marathon in 2016. (insert sad face here). I am quite disappointed this is the only year I did not run a half marathon over the past decade, (In 2021 I ran FOUR different states.) But this year also taught me a HUGE lesson, that running all 50 states is a JOURNEY. Reflecting back, it actually makes sense I chose not to run this year. I was pregnant, with a busy two year old, while also working as a labor and delivery nurse and finishing my graduate program as a Nurse practitioner. To say my hands were full was an understatement. Throughout this journey I have learned to give myself some grace.

    The next half of the decade in review coming shortly!

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    What To Do When Half Marathon Is Derailed With Unexpected Injury

    Training for a half marathon is a commitment of time and energy to yourself. With 12-weeks of preparation, your training can be derailed with unexpected injury or illness and have such an impact on the outcome of the race. I’ve alway considered myself a particularly healthy individual. With an education in healthcare, I write about endurance running & form, clean eating, and how traveling the world improves your mental health and creativity. During my training for the Idaho potato half marathon, I was diagnosed with a new autoimmune disease that shocked my core to the very being.

    How in the world did I end up being admitted to a hospital for a week with extreme gut pain? How could this happen to me? Then of course the subsequent self-doubt mind chatter follows. Did I cause this autoimmune disease? Did I eat too much sugar? Was this caused by recent stress during the pandemic and moving my family to a different state, or lack of sleep being a full-time mom and working?

    According to national Institute for health, more than 7% of the American population suffers from Autoimmune disease and the prevalence is rising. Triggers of autoimmune disease include stress, diet, exercise, insufficient sleep, and yet again I’m angered with this diagnosis wondering,

    ‘I thought I was healthy, what the heck happened?

    Moving forward, learning to control my symptoms of autoimmune disorder I appreciate the wealth of knowledge regarding clean eating and food to nourish my body. To gain perspective on the healing effects of clean eating for our bodies, let’s begin with the most underrated organ of our body, our gut. Here are a few facts that absolutely blew my mind about our gut’s amazing abilities.

    • One ounce of our stool (poop), has more microbes than there are people living on this entire planet! Wow! Each one of us holds our own ecosystem within our gut.
    • Your Genome has the potential to grow over 400 million different ecosystems. That translates to, if you’re not happy with your body‘s performance now, go and build one of the other 399 million options your genome has potential of. You’re microbiome changes every three days!

    You can focus on changing your gut ecosystem from sedentary lifestyle to Elite athlete with proper clean eating nutrition.

    Meaning, There’s Hope for you and me!

    • 95% of serotonin originates in your gut. Serotonin is a neurochemical in your brain that controls mood, which is why when you’re feeling loved you can get ‘butterfly’s in your tummy’. Also the use of an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) is the mainstay medication used to treat anxiety and depression. This means what you eat determines whether you have anxiety, depression, fatigue, fear, guilt.

    With building entirely unique gut ecosystems, we literally become the phrase “you are what you eat!”

    With more knowledge on gut health, let’s begin to provoke change. Finding a problem is liberating as it helps lead to a solution. The walls our our digestive tract are extremely thin, less than one cell in diameter. With certain foods the lining will become porous letting “bad bacteria” slip through the lining causing chronic inflammation.

    Signs of chronic inflammation include:

    • Fatigue
    • abdominal or chest pain
    • mouth sores
    • fever
    • rashes
    • joint pain

    (I have definitely experienced ALL of these symptoms personally, *and if you have, you should speak with your primary care provider*)

    So what do we do about the rise of autoimmune disease, and how does this affect my running?

    I had been training for a half marathon in Idaho. I highly considered cancelling my race after two separate admissions to the hospital to control my gut pain. Life had thrown me a curveball; just as it had done at the Grand Teton half marathon, when I unexpectedly had to push a double stroller for 13.1 miles.

    But running a half marathon in each state is a journey within itself. The road trip across states with my best friends was be pivotal to my soul, and laughter I desperately need. Traveling to different states gives my body exposure to different microbiomes. And people with the ‘healthiest guts’ tend to have the greatest diversity of bacteria in their microbiome.

    Plus, I have now given myself permission to walk the entire race with rest and bathroom stops as often as I need to.

    This upcoming race will challenge me, even if I only walk the course. and that’s ok.

    I can create one of the other 399 million potential microbiomes my genome is capable of creating. So I continue upon this clean eating lifestyle, and continue to learn and share my knowledge with you in hopes you can excel to your athletic potential as well.

    For additional knowledge, I recommend taking Outside’s Learn “the gut health fix”, with Seamus Mullen. This master class has been pivotal in my understanding, and I highly recommend this course.

    I write to you as a running coach to make suggestions to improve your performance. But YOU get to make the decisions. Choose options that honor your body and your practice.

    I went on to start the famous Idaho potato Half marathon as planned, and I FINISHED the RACE STRONG!

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    What to eat during a Marathon for a Strong Finish

    Avoiding the “bonk” during your marathon

    To set the scene, we’ve just run 23.1 out of 26.2 miles in the beautiful Avenue of the giants, redwoods of California, Marathon. We’ve trained for this day, and now our performance will reflect all our hard work. All that was left was 3.1 miles to finish. A 5K, (Which in marathon training) I was confident I could complete in my sleep.

    Throughout the course we’ve stopped at each aid station for a quick sip of water and even sampled an energy gummy pack at the aid station. Energy gummy’s that other ‘more experienced runners’ had raved about. But our fueling for this marathon was ill-prepared. We did not pack any water, electrolytes or energy supplements for the run. I “hit a wall” at mile marker twenty-three and had to walk the last three miles of my race. I did not yet know what to eat during a marathon for peak performance.

    Although I was extremely grateful to finish the race, I was disappointed in my performance. I had not anticipated that on average,

    Runner’s burn through about 100 calories per mile.

    That’s about 2,600 calories consumed in a marathon, and greater than the average daily recommended caloric intake! Although I thought we had prepared appropriately (with a carb loaded spaghetti and garlic bread dinner the night before) we needed much more fuel to sustain energy before, during and after our marathon for a strong finish.

    What to eat before marathon (1-2 hours before run)

    Half and Full marathons generally start at sunrise to beat the mid-morning heat. With an anticipated 7 am start time, you should be waking no later than 5 am to begin your fueling. Anticipate 1-2 hours before your run starts and focus on simple carbohydrates.

    Carbs are the easiest source of energy for the body to convert to glucose

    Glucose is needed to fuel your brain and muscles. Along with carbohydrates, add in a source of caffeine. Limit your intake of caffeine to what your body is used to before race day; but having caffeine enhances your mental focus for the race ahead.

    Most importantly before the race, focus on hydration! Say it with me now: most importantly, before your run focus on hydration! Maintaining hydration is imperative for performance, as it helps regulate our temperature, and enable our bodies to endure our peak performance.

    what to eat during marathon

    Pre-Fuel Guidelines

    • Carbohydrates: Focus on simple carbs, low fiber
    • Protein and Fat: small amounts of protein for stability- main source of energy will be drawn from carbs
    • Caffeine- enhance mental focus and preparedness
    • HYDRATION: urine should be pale yellow

    Hydration, Hydration, Hydration!

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    What to eat during your Race

    After completing our first full Marathon, my entire focus was on how I failed at the end of the race. I wistfully hobbled across the finish line at a mere five hour finish time. How did that finish time become so slow? We had trained for this. Our longest training run was 20 miles long, so it must have been the last three miles that ruined my goal time. Nearly a decade later I can assure you, I didn’t lose my goal time in the last three miles of my race.

    I lost my race within the first 15 minutes it began

    Hydration starts early. Within the first 15 minutes of your run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids, and continue hydration every 15 minutes. Along with fluids, bring at least 30 grams of carbohydrates per hour of endurance activity. Consuming those energy gummies in my marathon was game-changing, but put into perspective, I should have brought at least five packets to sufficiently sustain me. Continue to adjust your hydration and carbohydrates based on your environment- (is it a hot day? are you running at altitude?)

    During your Run

    • Sustain energy levels. Avoid the “BONK”!
    • Aim for at least 30g of carbohydrates per hour for endurance
    • Hydration starts EARLY! Within the first 15 minutes of a run you should be taking 2-3 gulps of fluids.
    what to eat during marathon

    What to eat in Recovery

    Immediately after the marathon my body appropriately scarfed down a ton of food. Giving in to all of my cravings, I proudly consumed a sushi roll, a chocolate milkshake, chicken fajitas and a cheeseburger all while lying in bed! The key to recovery nutrition is to replenish all the nutrients and electrolytes you have lost during your endurance activity. Aim for at least 20-30 grams of protein for muscle repair.

    what to eat during marathon

    Recovery Run fuel (15-60 mins after)

    • Replenish the Nutrients and electrolytes you’ve lost
    • Protein: Eat at least 20-30g of protein for muscle tissue repair and protein synthesis
    • REST

    we run the states

    Conquering Grand Teton half marathon pushing a double stroller

    OH Wyoming, you’re quite a story! If you’re one of those jump-to-the-cliff-hanger type of readers, I’ll give you the quick and easy. I ran the Vacation Races Grand Teton half marathon at 6395 ft elevation, uphill, pushing a DOUBLE stroller with two big kids! Every other person passing me, (because there were many passing me) called me “badass” or “you’re a beast”, or “you go mama!” which felt really encouraging. But it wasn’t until I started writing this that I discovered, damn! I AM a BADASS! Check out how amazing the Tetons were!

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    Grand Teton Half Marathon, The Run

    This was my first run with Vacation Races, and I was expecting a great race based on previous reviews. But this run far exceeded all of my expectations. I’ll say it multiple times during this post, if you get the opportunity, Run a race with Vacation races.

    The course is primarily paved on a bike trail, with some dirt tracks near the finish line. I had expected to become weary with a 583 ft elevation gain at max 6,383 ft. What I had not anticipated, was my husband having an emergency and being left with our two kids. I, like most situations in life, had two choices. To choose defeat and get my first ‘did not start’ (DNS), or find a way to run. Sometimes life throws us changes that we can’t control. It probably would have been easiest to accept this race was out. But I thought, WHY NOT TRY? So I found an online service that rents baby gear and rented a Bob double stroller and we started.

    Two and a half hours later, we were still running. There had only been one 3-year-old melt down, (because Cheetos had fallen on his seat) but we could see the finish line. So again I considered, WHY NOT TRY?

    Sadie and Pierce’s first half marathon

    We decided to try, and made one of the most fulfilling personal records of my running career. Sadie and Pierce’s first half marathon! The scenery was absolutely mesmerizing, so much so, that it kept my kids entertained for 13.1 miles. For the cherry on top, The finish line had a picturesque photo drop of the Grand Tetons. A carousel of buses transported us back to the start line. But be cautious, if you have a double stroller you may have to wait quite a while for a bus that can fit the stroller too.

    Grand Teton half marathon scenery

    Things to do

    I’ve heard of the wonders of Jackson, WY for over a decade. My husband worked on a wildfire hot shot crew in his twenties, and was captured when the helicopter flew over the Grand Tetons. He’s been pressing on returning since then. I didn’t get the same aerial view that he did, but even from the ground you can enjoy the sheer magnitude of the Tetons. First and foremost, download the gypsy guide. It’s 100% worth the commentary that is informative and entertaining. It’s like having a personal tour guide in your car; then you’re ready to explore this beautiful national park.

    Jenny Lake

    There is a trifecta of highlights to visit, all of which we were able to do in one busy day. Start at the explorer center for a wilderness badge for the kids and a few souvenirs as well. Then head on over to Jenny Lake. You can either choose to hike the round trip of 7.5 miles or pay $18 for a roundtrip on the boat. On this trail you’ll visit hidden falls and inspiration point. One tip, don’t wait too long to get back to the boat if you don’t plan on hiking home. The boat ride closes at four and we ended up waiting an hour in line. Many people were forced to hike.

    Next up on our journey around the Grand Tetons was mormon row. This is known for its photogenic barns that belonged to some of the earliest settlers in Jackson hole. Then to snake river outlook, made famous by Ansel Adam’s 1942 portrait attracting visitors to the Grand Teton national park. There are several other features of the park you can follow with your gypsy app if you have more time available.

    Snow King Mountain

    We’re always looking for fun family friendly activities while we travel. Snow King mountain definitely filled that role. There’s a scenic chair lift to the top of the mountain, where kids can enjoy a treetop adventure. Then choose to either slide down or ride the cowboy coaster. There’s also a bungee trampoline, mini golf and bike rentals. Check it out in the video above, we liked it so much we went twice!

    Jackson Village

    Probably the most enjoyable part of our trip was visiting Jackson village. This quaint town had a variety of stores, including the biggest toy store to reward my kids for “patiently running/being pushed for 2.5 hours in a stroller” for their first half marathon. I enjoyed sampling at spirits and spices and the whole family loved eating at Pizzeria Caldera.

    Where to stay

    Originally I had searched for a camping experience, with showers for after the sweaty run. But If you take one tip from this post, it’s Book early! I made reservations in January for our June half marathon, and nearly everything near Jackson village was already booked! We luckily booked the absolute best Fireside resort, minutes away from the start line. These luxurious rustic cabins are ideal for family and friend settings, perfectly equipped with a kitchenette to make some home cooked meals to enjoy by your own fire. I hope you enjoy Wyoming as much as we did!

    Publix atlanta half marathon at the Olympic Trials

    Flying over the US Olympic team trial marathon the day before the Publix Atlanta is possibly the most inspirational sight you could ask for before starting your own half marathon. 700 of the country’s top runners were competing for their chance at the Olympic games set for Tokyo as we landed down in Atlanta. You could feel the excitement as thousands of runners gathered; Little did I know, this would be my last “in-person” running event and travel for the year as COVID was sweeping the nation.  I had already planned (and payed for) a half marathon in New Hampshire, Yosemite, CA, and Paris, Italy.  Sadly those were all cancelled. The 2020 Publix half marathon was my last “Hoo-rah” and I was proud of the outcome.  This was the most prepared I have ever been for a race. I had just completed Whole 30, a nutritionally sound diet with no sugar, alcohol, grains, legumes or dairy. I was strong- and shooting for a half marathon under 2 hours.

    The Run

    The race starts in Downtown Centennial Olympic park at 7 am. It was a good thing there were THIRTEEN thousand at the start line, because the temperature was a chilly 30 degrees. The course wove through the very hilly streets passing Georgia State University, historic downtown, Botanical Gardens, ending by the aquarium and world congress center. Let me repeat, very HILLY streets. Up, down, up, down, UP! Regardless of the terrain I hit my PR at 2:02:41.  SO CLOSE to under two hours! Although I was literally THREE minutes away from my goal, I was still very proud.  I knew that every mile I gave my absolute best, and on that day- my best was over two hours. After the race came the fun part, the RUN-cation!

    All. The. Food.

    Luckily we had recommendations from a local urbanite. The Atlanta Beltline had everything we needed (and it sure was fun to cruise down the rest of the day). Even for March the weather was beautiful. Start your morning at ‘Just add Honey’ tea company for a morning brew. Then hit up Ladybird for breakfast and a mean bloody. As you may recall, I had just taken a month of strict NO sugar, alcohol, grains etc. so why not go full out to celebrate my PR?! Next step along the beltline, was the Pour-taproom.  With 85 variety’s of beer and wine on tap for tasting and a huge scrabble board; gosh, don’t threaten me with a good time!

    Next absolute must have, chicken and waffles! And although the waffle house is very well known, Atlanta Breakfast club takes the cake! (or waffles).  Don’t miss their killer breakfast menu.

    Food near the venue- gosh there were SO many to choose from! A few with highlights included: Tin Linzys- loads of delicious tator tots. Amalfi pizza- very cute atmosphere. Wahlburger– who doesn’t love the Wahlbergs?! Max lagers Wood fired grill and Brewery- very fancy, and walkable from our hotel- even in heels! If you’re interested in the Best Cioppino in the US, check out Seattle!

    Things to see

    Atlanta is a lively city with nearly half a million residents. If you can think of something you’d like to do, you can likely find it in Atlanta, Georgia.  But I’d like to share a hidden gem just outside of of the city; Stone Mountain, Just 20 miles outside of Atlanta. I had visited my grandparents in Georgia every summer as a kid and idolized the large properties with green grass that required a ‘tractor’ to mow. And of course, every little girls dream, visiting the cabbage patch factory all hold a dear place in my heart. But the Stone mountain Laser show Spectacular should not be missed! March was a bit too early for the laser show spectacular as it’s a summer activity, so the wind and rain were a bit more forceful this time of year! haha It is still definitely worth visiting Stone mountain and riding the tram up. Next state, Wyoming!

    The Great Ferry Race Seattle

    From the iconic Pike Place Market to the Space needle tower; from the Great Ferry Race to Bainsbridge island and Ballard lock salmon runs; Seattle is absolutely unforgettable!

    The Run

    The Great Ferry Race in Seattle, Washington is an unforgettable course! The best part is, I got some video footage throughout the entire run so you can see the terrain change! You board a ferry in the chill of the morning, despite being middle of June; so pack some warm clothes for the ride over, in which you have plenty of time for a warm cup of hot cocoa riding over to Bainbridge Island. The start of the race sounds and a wave of runners exit the ferry onto the course. This race is a blend of road and trails entering the Grand Forest and Battle Point Park.

    The Great Ferry race hyper speed

    As stunning and unique as this Ferry run is, be forewarned. There are HILLS! I was spending much of my time finicking with my GoPro in order to get great documentation of the course, so I didn’t realize how SLOW I was running, whoops! I wouldn’t attempt a PR on this course, unless you’re one of those savage hill runners, but the experience alone could not be traded. (Notice the mindfully placed “2 Legit 2 Quit” encouragement sign, as many of us walked up this steep hill). Orca running company also has an epic medal with a ferry that actually slides from Seattle to Bainbridge Island!

    Running brings many obstacles and personal accomplishments, but I’m repetitively impressed with the ease of making a new friend along the course. After 13.1 miles of running beside somebody you’ve never met, it’s pretty easy to just say, “Hi”. 🙂 Along this course I met a new great friend who met her personal accomplishment of running a half marathon each month this year! (So impressive!) Now to the Yummy part.

    The Food and Drinks

    I’m a novice at eating Seafood. I enjoy your traditional basic cooked shrimp, but I’ll happily admit, my palate has slowly been expanding through the years. I have NEVER been brave enough to order Cioppino. Enter, the Pink Door restaurant. My husband ordered this dish filled with prawns, rock fish, mussels, clams and calamari in a spicy tomato and white wine broth and I nearly devoured his entire meal! I’ve tried multiple copycat recipes at home of this Cioppino since then, (and although delicious) this restaurant takes the cake. If you’re in Seattle, go to the Pink door.

    Ray’s Boathouse dining was a special treat shared with family members we hadn’t seen in years. We were graciously toured around Seattle by my husband’s cousin (who sells real estate, thus knowing the history and BEST places to visit in Seattle); and his ‘special treat’ was Ray’s. And It was just that. A special treat including incredible food, a mean Bloody Mary and you really can’t get any better than waterfront.

    Things To Do

    Pike Place Market

    This next one should be in a category all by itself. I truly wasn’t sure whether to put the infamous Pike Place Market under ‘food’ or ‘things to do’- because it is ALL the above! My husband has been anticipating going to Pike Place Market for over a decade, and it did not disappoint! Let’s go through a day dream together.

    You live in a cute downtown home in Seattle. The fog is still hovering over the bay and you take a short walk to the Pike Place market for that morning’s fresh catch off the Pacific Ocean and a strong brew of coffee. There’s actually a mix of fresh and salt water catches to choose from thanks to the ballardlocks. You stroll through the farmers market and pick up some cheese churned in front of you, and of course a bouquet of flowers to brighten your home. You realize you’ve taken up most of the morning tasting local honey, jams, lemonade, nuts and olive oil tastings and it’s now midday. So you stop at the local pub and order a flight of handcrafted brews of character at the Pike Brewing company.

    Ok, now wake up. Just kidding, you don’t have to. That scenario is LEGIT what the Pike Place Market has to offer. Go there.

    Ballardlocks

    The Ballardlocks were a surprise treat for me, I had never known of their historical significance. The locks serve several purposes to maintain the water level of FRESH water from Lake Washington and Lake Union, to prevent mixing of SEA water from Puget Sound and course to move boats between the two. Our very personal, previously mentioned cousin realtor, opened our eyes to this intellectual way of “changing the tides” so to speak. I couldn’t help but accompany this video by sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tides roll away. Watching history is inexplicable, go see it.

    If you’ve ever seen Grey’s Anatomy, you’ve seen the Seattle space needle. I’m a Nurse Practitioner, bred through the era of medical drama. Unbeknown to me, I was influenced by this picturesque image of Seattle. It signified accomplishment that I didn’t even recognize I was achieving- both in my career and by completing another Half Marathon. Retrospectively, Seattle meant a lot more to me than I realized.

    Seattle Space Needle

    The Seattle Space needle’s top house sits 520′ above ground and let me tell you, it’s a bit nerve racking! I have no fear of heights, but this testest me just the slightest. Go ahead, lay down on the GLASS rotating sphere. I dare you. Long behold, they serve a few mixology cocktails and brews so your nerves may be calmed.

    Little Red Day Spa

    I will recommend time and time again, schedule a stretch or massage after your run! It is worth every penny. You’ve already completed weeks of training and Thirteen. point. one. freaking. miles! If you’re like me, you’re sore; knees in particular. I remember there was a physical therapy tent after our Tucson Arizona race offering free stretches; and that intensive stretching made all the difference in the world with muscle soreness the next day. This Seattle local, Little Red Day Spa combined both a stretch massage and romantic getaway that you should not miss.

    where to stay

    Motif Seattle- a Hyatt Hotel

    What do you look for in lodging when booking a half marathon? Me? I look for a safe location closest to my running event. Preferably a hotel that has transport to and from the race. I look for notably clean and welcoming. Motif met almost every single one of my requirements, only excluding transport to the race. (Nobody likes to walk far after running a half marathon haha). I hobbled around after the half but our hotel was so centrally located that despite my short lived bicker and fuss, I was overly impressed with their hotel.

    Seattle overview: 1) Washington is SO green, The Pacific Northwest’s beauty is. remarkable. 2) WOW: the things to eat and see- Pike place market, ballardlocks, 3) I am not sponsored by any of these places mentioned, I just enjoy sharing experiences so that you can enjoy yours!

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