He did it!

It’s been a few days since the Giant Race Half Marathon that both Mike and I ran in San Francisco. It’s also been a few days of recovering and letting those legs rest and relax, but also get some stretching and icing in.

Going into this race, I had been helping my friend’s husband, Mike, train for his first half marathon. You can see my previous posts for updates on his progress along the way (June 19 and July 19). Everything was going really well and I was excited for him. I enjoy helping other people train for races and to see how they progress, feel along the way, and work toward their goal. However, a couple weeks ago, Mike told me he tweaked his hamstring and this made me nervous. So I told him to rest and be careful with his last couple weeks of runs. The last week he didn’t run at all, but I preferred this than having him push too hard and injure it any further.

IMG_5558A few days before the race I touched base with him. He hadn’t been running. But he assured me he was still going to run the race. He said, “It will have to be torn for me not to run”, and then confidently said, “You will see me cross [the] finish line running.” I knew he was still in this race! I could see the determination he had.

I had planned on attending the Expo at AT&T Park with him to kind of walk him through everything, his first expo, but he arrived to S.F. earlier than we did (Clint and I), so he and Rosemarie (his wife and my friend) did the whole expo thing themselves. They wanted to get it over with early. So they were in and out of the expo in like 30 minutes. Got the bib, bobblehead, shirt and headed out.

I got there a couple hours later and had to wait in a long line, but got my goodies as well. Clint and I also perused the vendors and got some fun photobooth photos taken with SF Giants paraphernalia, won some tickets to a baseball game, drank some cocktails with friends, and made our way to the Giants Dugout store to buy some tall socks to wear during the race. We were there for like two hours!

Later that evening, we had made plans to meet up with them for dinner to carbload. We ended up in North Beach and ate at an Italian restaurant called Calzones Pizza Cucina. We had delicious pizzas and talked about running. I’m sure Clint and Rosemarie were bored with our running talk. It was getting later in the evening so we were talking about prepping for the morning, where to meet, corrals, and all the things that go along with race morning preparations. Mike was in good spirits and was excited.

After a fun dinner, we went our separate ways and I got my banana, Clif bar, and KIND fruit and nut bar for the morning at a corner store on the walk back to where we were staying. I laid everything out like I always do to prepare for the race and set the alarm for 5:30am.


Waiting at the start line

5:30am came fast and I got dressed and we headed out the door to meet Mike at AT&T Park. On our quick drive, we passed by a few nightclubs with lines out front with people waiting to get in. I laughed! As we are getting ready to run a half marathon, there are people in S.F. waiting to get into clubs! These people are either ending their nights or maybe even starting their days with a little club action at 6am.

As I walked up to the starting area, I practically bumped into Mike and Rosemarie waiting just outside the corral area. It was good to see them! We waited in a porta potty line and then went to our corrals. I wished Mike good luck and told him he would be just fine. I got in my corral and found the 1:40 pacer. I kind of decided last minute I would try to beat my PR from a few years ago, so I would have to stay with the 1:40 pacer to do that. And the race started at 7am! Let’s do this! As I started my running watch, it failed to start because it was full with past races and training runs stored in it, so I couldn’t keep track of the miles and had to use it only for pacing myself. Oh well! I could stick with the pacer and I would be fine.

I didn’t run with Mike so I just hoped that everything would go well along the way and he would finish. The course was pretty nice with only a few hills. The last one was the toughest about 3/4 of the way through the course. The Golden Gate Bridge looked beautiful and we got to run the second half along the water for a bit. I wanted to stop to take photos, but didn’t want to screw up my time. As we got closer to the finish, people started to pick up their pace and that helped me get a little more speed.

IMG_5583As we approached the finish, AT&T Park was in view and we got to enter from the side of the stadium and run onto the field! So cool! And Lou Seal, the Giants mascot, was there to greet us and cheer us on at the finish line. I gave him a high five right before I crossed the finish line! The best part was our glittery medal. It looked like the front of the World Series ring. I got a little bling!

I looked for Clint in the bleachers and then made my way around the field to get food, water and pictures taken by fellow runners. Friends and family couldn’t come out onto the field, so strangers were taking pictures of other runners. Everyone was having fun out there!


Mike and me after the race

I met up with Clint, Rosemarie and Mike’s family in the bleachers. We were waiting to see him cross the finish line. He texted Rosemarie when he was 3 miles away, so we knew he was coming soon. We saw him cross the finish line with a time of 2:12:13! We were all very excited for him! He wasn’t limping and looked good, so I thought everything was okay. However, he said that from Mile 1 he was having pain in his hamstring, but he was determined to get to the finish and he didn’t even walk.

I’m really proud of him. I know going into a race with an injury is tough. Sometimes you don’t know if you should run the race or not, but determination also takes over and with Mike, he absolutely wanted to complete this race.  He wasn’t going to let anything get in the way of that. This was a special race for him being a huge SF Giants fan. He ran his FIRST half marathon…his first 13.1 miles! What a great accomplishment!

I asked him how he felt later. He said everything hurt. I told him to drink lots of water, stretch and ice. And walking is good too. I touched base with him again yesterday and I wondered what he thought of this experience. I thought maybe the injury might have put a damper on it, but he said it was overall a great experience for him. “My goal was to run in that race and run into the stadium and I reached it.” He sure did!! He finished with, “
What I really take away from this is [there's a] crazy big difference between running and training. Now I can go back [to] just running until I sign up for another race.” I love it! I can’t wait to hear what his next race is going to be.

All smiles here from his virtual running coach. Go Giants and Go Mike!

Mike’s progress

It’s been a month since I last introduced Mike. Check out my post on June 19 if you want to read the introduction. With the SF Giants Half Marathon coming in just a few weeks (August 4th), I wanted to update you on his progress.

One of the biggest things that’s happened is Mike finally registered for the race! Lol! I didn’t even know he wasn’t registered til a little over a week ago. You’ve got to register for the race to do the race. It’s a major component!

So now that he’s registered, he’s just continuing with his running. He’s been doing really well! I got a little nervous though after he told me he tweaked his hamstring about a week ago. He had a rest day scheduled the day after it happened, so that was good. I just suggested he be careful and don’t push too hard. I would hate for him to injure it any further and not be able to run the race.

However, last Sunday he ran 10 miles and he said he felt great and could have kept going. This is so awesome! But, he said he was dehydrated after, as he didn’t bring any water or electrolytes to refuel. It may not be humid here in Sacramento (like in Boston, where I was constantly drinking water and it still wasn’t enough), but it is pretty warm, so you need to get those fluids back into your body.

He did start asking me more questions about water intake, energy chews, what to wear on race day, and all the stuff that goes along with this. I also reminded him about the Expo and maybe refraining from walking all over SF the day before before the race. I gave him as much advice as possible. I really wanted him to train with the energy chews or Gu’s to find out which ones he liked better. It’s better to do this during training than on race day. Not everyone likes the same flavors or consistencies of them. Or they may not always agree with your body. I also recommended Body Glide for chaffing and possibly a technical shirt, rather than a cotton one.

He did also mention that “the one thing that really helps is the days off.” He used to run more than 40 miles a week, running everyday, but he feels way better now during most runs because of the rest days in between.

Mike said that he was going to run 12 miles this weekend and 14 the following week, which is the week before the race. I advised him not to run 14 miles. I just think that’s way too much before the race. I told him maybe he should swap these and do 13 this weekend (if he wants to do that much) and 11 the following week. I told him about the taper period the week of the race and I just don’t think 14 miles that Sunday is smart. I told him that usually you don’t train past 12 miles on your long runs. So Mike said, “Oh ok good. So if I can run 12 I can run 13.1.” I said, “Yup!”

As Hal Higdon says, “Inspiration will carry you to the finish line, particularly if you taper the final week.”

We communicate mostly over Facebook messages, so I gave him a few questions to answer -

  1. With 2.5 weeks left til the race…how are you feeling? And how’s the training coming along?: I feel great other then tightness in hamstrings. Right on schedule [and] have not missed a workout. Have not had to cut back.
  2. How’s the foot?: Foot is good (He’s a man of many words!)
  3. Anything you’re concerned about?: Only concern would be hills. All my running, other then occasional overpass, is flat. (SF races/courses usually consist of hills)
  4. Do you still have the same goals? Time goal? Etc?: Most [of my] runs are sub 9 min miles so goals for under 2 [hours] really haven’t changed, but I am leaning toward the 2:10 pace group since I will be in a crowd and there will be some hills.

I honestly think he will be able to do this race in under 2 hours, but I told him to do whatever he’s comfortable with. I think he’s going to kick ass! I can’t wait to see him on race day and see him experience his first half marathon!

And if the SF Giants AND finishing the race at AT&T Park weren’t enough of a reason to do this race, check out these awesome medals we get when we finish. Super excited!!

The far left one is the half marathon medal

The far left one is the half marathon medal

More to follow…

Meet Mike Messina

I’m not an official coach or anything like that. I’m not certified or have a license. But I do like to help people if they are interested in training for a race or just trying to get some running into their exercise routine.


August 4, 2013

Recently, I signed up for the 2013 San Francisco Giant Race (Half Marathon) and Mike, my friend’s husband, decided he wanted to do it as well. He’s a big SF Giants fan and sports fan in general, so I think this is the perfect race for him. It will have great energy and fans along the entire course. He asked me for a training plan to help. I have many training plans for half marathons and marathons that I’ve run. Once I sent it over, he said it was a “serious plan”, but he was down to make it happen. So, I decided why not feature him on my blog! Since it’s his first half marathon, I wanted to show his progress and his experience.

The race is August 4, so we are still several weeks out. I check in with him periodically to see how he’s doing and get feedback and answer questions he has. I was a little worried a few weeks ago when he mentioned he was having issues with Planter Fasciitis. This is not pleasant and some runners have a harder time with the pain and not being able to run. But he seems to be okay now.

Mike also ran 7 miles the other day and felt “weak” and wanted to know what he should be eating. I gave him some tips on what to eat before the run and what he should be carrying with him on long runs – Shot Bloks, Gu, etc. I recommended he start training with these before the race so his body is used to it.

Mike and his dog Gracie

Mike and his dog Gracie

Here are some questions I asked him to get to know him better -

1. How long have you been running?
“Have run off and on for 20 years.”

2. Have you run a 1/2 marathon (any races) before? Which one?
“Never ran a half in a real race. I have only ran 5k fun runs.”

3. Why do you want to run this race?
“As a big Giants fan I think it is cool to finish in PacBell AT&T Park.” Me too!!

4. What keeps you motivated?
“Reaching goals.”

5. How do you like the training so far?
“Training has been fine; it has taken me a while to get used to it. I am used
to running like 5 or 6 miles a day everyday (with) very few days off. Now with the training I have days off and really only 1 DAY of a long run.”

6. What have been your challenges?
“Only challenges have been fighting foot injury (planters) and have to switch days around due to my basketball tourney schedule.” Mike’s a high school basketball coach.

7. What is your goal?
“My goal is to run my race and not worry about any other runners faster/slower, etc. Time goal – not sure, prob 9 [mins] per [mile].”

8. How old are you?
“50 years old.” But he assured me that he’s not your “typical 50 year old”!

9. Do you do any other cross training besides running?
“A little rowing machine box, jumps, b-ball.”

I’m really excited for Mike and can’t wait to see him cross the finish line! More updates to come…

Here’s the link to the race – http://www.race-sfgiants.com

Any of you have tips for Mike?

If you are ever interested in running or training for a race, let me know. I’d be happy to help!