13.1 things I learned from my first half marathon

Since I’ve completed my first half marathon, I keep thinking about things I need to do to make the next one better.

1) find an outfit w/more pockets!
-my outfit had no pockets, all I had was the pocket on my camelbak water bottle, so when I was grabbing fuel for later I ended up holding them in my hands! My hands got a bit cramped up, especially from holding my water bottle in my right hand the whole time. I probably should of switched it between miles. Or get those water bottle back packs? Maybe I should get like a fuel belt? Or I would stuff things into my clothes that wasn’t comfortable but maybe look into those bras with lots of pockets. What do you do to carry things when you run?

2) do more cross training
-I only did cross training for about a month of training and I know I could of benefit more if I did it more.

3) have two pairs of shoes
-my shoes are pretty worn out right now, my feet hurt pretty badly after the race. I should look into having two shoes so I can alternate between them I know I have a neutral stride but I do crash pretty hard when I land so I think that’s why my shoes are worn out already.

4) somehow avoid knee pain
-6 days later my knee still hurts pretty badly mainly when I take the stairs. Maybe take ibuprofen before the race? Wear a knee brace? Use kt tape? Any ideas?

5) stretch and foam roll!
-I pretty much never stretch or foam roll. Oops. Gotta get into a better routine of that.

6) find something to prevent chaffing
– I don’t really chaff but just this one spot- when my arm band hits my body where my tank top doesn’t cover. Just that little spot but boy does it hurt! What do you use? Vaseline? An amazing potion? Lol

7) prepare for any weather
-luckily at DC the weather was perfect but after talking to Lauren and Kathleen I heard how they have ran races in cold or rainy conditions. Besides my shorts and tank, I brought a tshirt, a long sleeve shirt, and Capri and leggings length pants. What would I have done if it did rain? Or if it was colder? I would of been screwed!

8) find a way to take pics on the course
– I really need to figure out a way to take pics. The support on the course does make a difference and they deserve to be recognized. Carry a camera? Or master taking selfies while running?

9) buy a portable charger
-even if I ever get a GPS watch I would most likely use my phone for music and to get in contact with others after my run. I would definitely invest in buying a portable charger so as soon as I’m done with the race, I can charge it! Lauren’s phone died after she ran, and mine was at like 40% ish when I was done but died quickly since so many people were using their phones to find people.

10) think about post race outfit
-this was something I never thought about before until DC because it was shorter distances and they were close to home so I could shower and meet up with people, but how to make myself somewhat decent after running 13.1 miles. Like wipes, deodorant, switch of shoes, perfume, something to eat like a luna bar, a sweatshirt/jacket that I don’t donate before the race starts, stuff like that.

11) pack a pre race meal
-I was really nervous for the DC race and I rarely eat much beforehand anyways, but I know I would benefit from bringing stuff like instant oatmeal or a bagel.

12) find a training plan that’s good for me
-the nike plan I think wore me out a bit and I know I would of liked it more if I could have more than just 1 cross training day.

13) compression socks for recovery
-I think one of the main reasons I didn’t feel horrible after flying home and working and going to school on Monday was because I wore compression socks. I really do think they aid with my recovery well. I don’t know if I would ever wear them while I run (I’m always trying to avoid funny tan lines! ) but I think wearing them after long runs are helpful.

13.1 ) do yoga after long runs
-after one long run during training, I did go to a yoga class since my friend was becoming a yoga teacher and had a free class. I don’t really particularly love yoga, but I do enjoy it and thought it was wondering to do after a long run to stretch out my body.

we run dc: day 3: race day!

Sunday, April 27: RACE DAY! #werundc

AHHHH! Is what I thought when I heard the 4am alarm went through the hotel room. I slept but not as well as I wanted too. I woke up during the night sneezing and feeling congested, and of course, I was nervous! I expressed to a lot of people I’m really scared that I wouldn’t finish the race, and that the bus would come and pick me up because I was too slow. The main reason I thought this was because my 13 mile run went pretty bad and I pretty much have been slacking on training since week 7, so about halfway through.

My race day clothes- yeah I wore new stuff- the tank too and the socks but nothing bad happen to me so yay!


Me and Lauren 🙂 omg I’m so tired! Ahh!


I got up, put on my race clothes, ate a Luna bar, and headed to the Metro once again. Thank goodness we loaded our Metro card, the lines to load them were long!

After getting to the race, we checked our bags and hung out mainly by that area. Since I was using a sweatshirt that I didn’t care about, I was going to toss it once I start so that it would be donated. Lauren and Kathleen had nicer gear on, so we chilled until they were brave enough to take it off. lol

My friend Paige wanted to see me at one point on race day, she was ambitious and said she wanted to see me start so I texted her when I was there. She wanted more sleep (which I completely understand, so did I!) and decided to track me on the Nike website and to come down once I was close to being done.

We were all in separate corrals, so Lauren and Kathleen dropped me off and wished me luck. Just standing in my corral alone, I was nervous and scared. I was thinking, “Can I do this?” “Will I finish?” “Why is it so cold?” “Can people tell I don’t really know what I’m doing?” “Do I look like a loser since I don’t have anyone to talk to?” lol I wanted to use my phone, but I didn’t want to waste my battery, so I avoid using it completely.

Before I knew it, I was closer to the start line, I looked up at the clock and noticed 16 minutes had pass, and I just started running!

I didn’t take any pictures during the race, I didn’t want to fumble with it going in and out of my case, and I didn’t want to risk lowering my battery power, and I knew I needed my phone later to find Lauren and Kathleen, and to find Paige later too.

The race was awesome. The weather was good, the course was pretty flat for the most part, and I had so many interesting signs to read, so much cool entertainment to see/hear/watch also.

They took the WE RUN sign and lit it blue under the tunnels, and also had the wall people signed their name there too. Lots of drums and marching bands! At the half way point, one point I really considered stopping to take a picture was they had a dragon and loin dance! (It’s those asian dances you tend to see during the Lunar New Year) But at that point, I was thinking, I’m half way done! I can do this! Keep going!

Other fun signs I saw were “You run better than healthcare.gov” “Girls, show congress how to run!” “You run better than the government” A lot of government puns.

“Run like Ryan Gosling is at the end!” There was also a poster that said “TOUCH” for a power boost! I thought that was funny!

One of my other favorite groups was I kept seeing people wearing Blackhawks gear, and their shirts read “Three Run Two” and I thought, hm, that’s funny, sounds like 312, like Chicago’s area code and the beer. And I kept running and it turns out, it was a Chicago running group from Logan Square! How awesome was that!?

I also saw a few girls wear a black tank and skirt, hair in a bun and a crown, and I thought, that’s awesome! They’re Audrey Hepburn from Breakfast at Tiffany’s!

From mile 7-11, that part was tough for me. You run through a peninsula and onto an island that I felt took FOREVER. There isn’t much cheering groups there and I felt the sun beating down on me. The cherry blossoms weren’t really there anymore either, so I felt like I had nothing to look at! I felt like I was on LOST or Gilligan’s Island, I was screaming and wanting to so badly to get off the island!

Luckily, at mile 11, Kathleen’s friend Brandon was working the water stations. I looked for him and thought I saw him, but I wasn’t sure if it was him. I felt delirious, I didn’t want to stop since I knew I only had 2 miles left, so I took the water from who I thought was him and then kept going. But it turns out, it was him! lol

I liked how at every station, they had water AND Nuun. I would drink both and use these places as a mini walking break before running again. I also really enjoyed the Clif shots they gave out, I grabbed two of those and really did use them when I was struggling at miles 7-11. I didn’t have to use the bathrooms, but man, those lines were LONG! It was great that they would post signs how far away the next bathroom was though.

Mile 12 was interesting, they called this the Chocolate Mile and handed us chocolate! And this was another section where they scan your bib and it flashes your name on the screen to encourage you to keep going! Mine said, “Huong, it’s time to rally!”

I did feel like the last mile was the longest. I kept running faster and faster but the finish line didn’t seem to get any closer.

But, before I knew it, I saw the finish line and I crossed it. The time there said 3:02 ish, so I was kind of mad at myself, I wanted to finish before the 3 hour mark. But, there was no time for that. I needed to pick up my Tiffany’s necklace! And swag bag!

I didn’t take a picture of the swag bag, but it had food from Whole Foods, a water bottle and chocolate milk. Then you would go in line to get your Tiffany’s necklace. They also offered heat blankets here too. I was getting my phone ready to get a picture with the guy that gave it to me, but I did notice he wasn’t stopping so I didn’t get one and I was sad. But, I kept walking and noticed more lines, and as I got towards the front, I saw the guys I wanted a picture with-the guys in tuxedos and a silver platter with Tiffany blue boxes! So, I hopped into that line! I didn’t do a crazy pose, just a simple one!


And here’s a picture of the necklace 🙂


Afterwards, I found my friend Paige and we wondered around stuff that wasn’t just for finishers so she could be with me. I saw the line for finisher’s apparel, and boy was it LONG! Thank goodness Lauren runs fast and grabbed me a shirt! But, there wasn’t anything too special. I really didn’t like how Nike is making stuff is random colors. I understand the teal (for Tiffany’s) and purple (for lymphoma and leukemia) but red? That one confuses me to the max.

And once again nike doesn’t fit me too well. I asked Lauren to get me a medium (since the shirt I got for the race was too small for a small) and now this medium is huge! Ahh! But at least I got something?


I grabbed another sample of Paul Mitchell, and then try to find Lauren and Kathleen. I didn’t even try to get into the Finisher’s Village, I knew I could talk to Lauren to see what was really in there. I also didn’t try to get in line for the step and repeat sign that said “I Finished!”

After finding them, Paige went to brunch and Kathleen, Lauren and I head back to DuPont to go to Shake Shack to meet up with more of Kathleen’s friends and Brandon and his wife. Kathleen loves this place and they’re opening one in Chicago soon so I was excited to try it out.


I got the Washington monu-mint concrete, fries, and single shack burger.

Brandon then offered to drive us back to the hotel to get our checked bags and to let us use his shower before we head back to the airport, and drive us to the airport! What a guy! We also then got a mini driving tour of DC, since we mainly spent much of our time in Georgetown. So, I got to see a part of the Martin Luther King Monument. But, definitely need to take a trip out of DC again soon, and for enjoyment this time!


At the airport, I wanted to cry once I saw the people waiting-there was a HUGE group of 8th graders that were on a trip and were on my plane ride back. I knew right away, this trip wouldn’t be a quite one, and I knew my seat sucked already-I got the last row by the bathroom. There was also a little bit of a delay, but once again, once I got on the plane, I pretty much passed out.

Before I got on the plane, I remember to put on my new compression sleeves! I probably looked funny, but who cares. I heard people like to wear them on plane rides to avoid swelling.


Then, we landed, got home, and it was back to reality. I had homework to worry about and work in the AM!

Overall, this was a great first half marathon experience. I can’t wait to do another one, although I’m sure I’ll be disappointed since Nike sure knows how to throw them, but regardless, I have a few more I like to do before I tackle a marathon and a sprint triathlon! And, of course, I would love to do the San Fransico one (even with those hills!) and if they ever do it at another location, I will be there! Even if a friend wants to run it for the first time, I’ll be there, even if it’s a location I’ve been to before! I can’t turn down another Nike experience and a Tiffany’s necklace 🙂

we run dc: day 1: travel/nike Georgetown/packet pickup/expotique and ostomy bag be gone!

I can now officially say that I completed my first half marathon! How exciting is that?!?!

This runcation was awesome and I couldn’t ask for a better one! I’m going to do a recap of the whole weekend by each day.

Friday, April 25

Travel day! And what better way to travel than after pulling an all-nighter and hoping on an airplane!? (Can’t you tell I am a little bit of a procrastinator? lol) I know this is strange, but during my undergrad years, I never pulled an all-nighter, so this was the first for me! Oh nursing school, what have you done to me!?

Since I was doing this half marathon with Lauren and Kathleen from sistertosisterrunning.wordpress.com, I was traveling with Kathleen and then meeting Lauren in DC! Lauren is one of my BFFs and I couldn’t wait not only to see her again but also to have two veterans of half marathons to help me out that weekend!

Me and Kathleen got to O’Hare in no time since we left my place so early, so we grabbed some breakfast and then waited for our plane. That was a little bit of a disaster, I guess they really needed two people to give up their seats and they were willing to give $600 in towards your next flight! I would of done it, but I needed to get to DC that day, and they weren’t getting me to DC until night time, and we had quite a day planned!

Once I got on the plane, I passed out until we landed in DC. We meet up with Lauren and then Kathleen’s friend Brandon picked us up from the airport. And look what the hotel had!


After checking into our hotel, all of us headed into Georgetown to go to packet pick up, explore the expotique and get some race merchandise at the Nike Georgetown!

We saw Nike Georgetown first, and all of the merchandise was upstairs. I really had to restrain myself from buying everything! I ended up w/a quarter zip, a thank top and socks. I’m still considering maybe buying a pair of shoes and this sweatshirt I saw.

I love the quarter zip, and it has thumbholes! The tank I ended up wearing it for the race and loved it also, the same goes for the socks.


And here’s the back of the quarter zip


Next to Nike Georgetown is the WE RUN DC name wall on the side, so we went to look for our name! It’s in alphabetical order from left to right. My name was in a cool location, in the N of RUN, and it’s two colors 🙂


After that, we headed to packet pick up, and on the Washington Harbour is where we saw the WE RUN sign so we took a pic of that also. Here’s my fail attempt to look like a really cool runner.


Then right down the hill was the packet pick up and expotique. Packet pick up went well, they scan your barcode that was your confirmation number for the race and then assign you a bib. And then you were sent to another tent to get your shirt.


I’m not a big fan of the shirt. I feel like it’s kind of plain and I would of liked it better if it was in a different color. Also, you couldn’t exchange your shirt for another size here, if you wanted a different size, you could only do it on Saturday night. I didn’t have time to go to it 😦 Nike kind of fits funny on me, depending on the item, I can be a small or a medium and you had to put this information down when you are entering the lottery and there’s no way to go back and check to see you put down or change it later (at least for shirts and pace corrals, I had to change the date of packet pick up, which was easy to do, I just had to email Nike)

The expotique was interesting, it had it’s ups and downs. One cool thing right away I noticed is they had a screen that would scan your bib and right away your name would come up and say something to encourage you for your the race, and then it disappears too quickly for you to try to take a picture with it, so it’s a lot of people entering in and out of the lines in order to get their name to appear on the screen again.


There was a Luna station for you to try different flavors and to make signs. There was also a Nuun station, which I thought was cool. I was able to try the flavors that they will have out on the race course and other flavors as well. I’ve never had Nuun before so I found this to be a pretty cool experience.

There was also a Paul Mitchell area for you to get your hair done, but that was a pretty long line so I passed on that and the next appointment was in 2 hours. There was also a mini Feet Fleet area for you to get some last minute race gear, but it was so small, I don’t know what you would of gotten there, mainly Nuun tablets if you found a flavor you really liked from the Nuun stations.

After that, there was a huge wall you could sign your name on it. I don’t know where people sign their name on Saturday, I came on Friday and it was full already!

Other things they had at the expotique was a Nike + Member services area, I didn’t go there, but it seem like an area you could get a gait analysis done. There was also a lot of modeling mannequins showing off Nike’s products and gear for the race.

The expotique was… ok. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.

After this, we started to explore more of DC. We headed to BTS for some burgers.

And to Georgetown Cupcakes! I love cupcakes and I’ve watched the show too, so I was super excited for this! I got to try the cherry blossom and red velvet, both were good in my book 🙂


Red velvet on the left, cherry blossom on the right


After this, we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit and then got pizza at PIOLA before meeting up with more of Kathleen’s friends in the DuPont area. I was excited at this point because I was FINALLY able to take off that ostomy bag!

Overall, my experience with the ostomy bag was just me being annoyed with it. I felt like it got in the way of picking my clothes and I didn’t like having random plastic sticking to me all the time. It did teach me some of the struggles a person having one has to face, I can’t imagine it being easy to get use to, I had trouble and I only had it for a day!

Whew! That was quite a Friday! Tomorrow, I’ll update on what we did on Saturday!

Final training run w/an ostomy bag

Yup, you read that title right! The latest from nursing school- I get to wear an ostomy bag for 24 hours. Of course this happens when I need to do my final run and travel to dc for my half marathon!


The run went well but I was fearful that maybe while I run that the bag might fall off and land on the track!

It’s crazy to think this was my last run in Illinois. Today is a rest day (much needed for traveling to dc, and I pulled my first all nighter so I’ve been up since 7am ish yesterday) and I’m not sure if I’ll do my 2 mike run tomorrow but we shall see.

So back to the ostomy bag, so far some challenges I’ve had are:

-showering- that was a hassle. The heat from the shower expanded my bag so I had to “burp” it. And the adhesive is like melting on my skin now.

-getting dressed- to go to the airport I couldn’t wear my original outfit since my tshirt is foam fitting so the ostomy bag would of shown through! So I had to pick another baggy top to wear.

-air travel- the whole time I was in line at tsa I was hoping like ahhh don’t pat me, because, really I can explain! It’s for nursing school! It’s not real! Look I can take it off! And gah I don’t want people to look at me!

But in reality what made tsa stop me is my Victoria secret pink leggings have pink spelled out on the back with bling so yeah lol

Well, I’m exhausted so I might try to nap before I board for this flight! Dc here I come!

We run dc!


(Credit: https://werundc.nikeapp.com/)

Oh my goodness, I can’t believe race day is almost here!

This race is pretty big for my running career (that sounds strange since I’m not a professional athlete but oh well). Not only is this my first half marathon, but also my first destination run! A runcation! Or is it a racecation? I’m not sure, I’m new at this lol

But first, how did I hear about this race and how did I get into it?

I first learned about this race mainly through Pinterest, people would often pin these awesome Tiffany blue nike fitness gear and I would always try to find it on the nike website but never had any luck.

Then, last year (2013) I was on instragram and I saw that Shawn Johnson had pictures of some awesome nike gear that was also in that Tiffany blue color! Through there I was able to learn that these were special merchandise for the run nike womens series race!

As if I wasn’t sold already on the merchandise that you can buy, I later learned that not only is the whole weekend Tiffany blue theme, but at the end of the race, you don’t get a medal, but a Tiffany’s necklace! I couldn’t believe it! I knew it was a race that had to be on my bucket list! I then started to google and read past participants reviews about the race and it just sounded so amazing I knew I had to do it.

So far the race is only at San Fransico (often occurs in October and has a half or full marathon option) and in DC as a half marathon in April. Since the race is so popular, registration is a lottery system, or you can enter by fundraising for leukemia and lymphoma society or as a student if you’re enrolled at a college/university.

I will admit, this is an expensive race. It was $175 but the way I see it, it’s a one time thing for the bucket list and I’m getting an amazing half marathon experience and a Tiffany’s necklace so definitely worth the money.

I entered the lottery for DC in November, not thinking I would get in it at all. I’ve read about how many times people enter this lottery and don’t get it! My friend Lauren did a team one with her sister Kathleen and also didn’t think they would get it. We just thought that since it was our first time going in the lottery that our chances were slim. In fact me and Lauren were making plans to sign up for another half marathon that same weekend for once we get that rejection email! So imagine our surprise when I got the email saying I was in, but that they were in too!

What does suck is the last day to enter in the lottery, I later found out that night I got into nursing school! So I could of been a guarantee entry and paid a lower price, but oh well.

I couldn’t believe I got into the race and I knew I had to step up my running game. This whole not train before any race wasn’t going to cut it for the half marathon!

Training has been difficult for me. Since I wasn’t much of a runner beforehand, I had to go from not running to running 4-5 days a week! And cross train! Things I never thought about! I don’t have a gym membership, so I was trying to figure out how to run indoors and outdoors (that didn’t happen much due to Chiberia). Luckily my park district has an indoor track free to the public so I took advantage of that. All I knew about running was to not wear cotton apparel and go for the wicking stuff that this rule applied to socks and sport bras too. I did have proper running shoes, that I did invest in when I signed up for the btn big 10k (that’s another story too- running shoes!) But that was about it.

I eased into working out by starting to go to pure barre classes. That really help me start to think about scheduling workouts into my day. What pure barre also really helped me was for cross training and it got me thinking mentally I can do anything, which is really important for running! I could talk about pure barre all day, that will also be another post.

Another factor that made training difficult was school, I just started a nursing program and to be out of school for awhile, it definitely took me some time to get back into that. Believe me, I didn’t think I would be doing both nursing school and training for a half marathon at the same time. I thought it was possible for me to do one or the other but not both. And, I was working part time also. It was a lot of things to juggle at once!

It’s crazy to think about it like it was so long ago, and just how much I’ve learned these months about running! I’m still scared about not being able to finish the race since I didn’t really stick to the training plan (I only did 70% of what Nike told me to do) but regardless, I’m excited to take on my first half marathon!

Last longish run


This week I trying to make sure I do all of my runs because ahhh this half marathon is coming up!

Today I had to run 7 miles and I decided to give the prairie path and my water bottle another chance.

For the most part this run went well, I remember to bring my id and card in case I need something along the way.

It just makes me so mad how much more difficult it is to run outside than inside where the variables are constant! I get warmer quicker, I have to worry about cars and I get mad at myself when I get to the intersection and the train just past because now I have to wait FOREVER before I can cross the street! I feel like all of my allergies attack me while I’m trying to breath and run at the same time, it’s just not a pretty picture.

I’m glad this run went waaaay better than my last run on the prairie path. I was going to give up since the other time I tried the prairie path it just snowed so it was mushy! Maybe next time I should run the opposite direction to see what else is out there.

Longest long run.

So, training.

It’s been… Not happening.

Running is truly a mental sport and I know in my mind running is not my main focus now. March and April have been pretty hectic. I had finals in March (all of my classes are 8 weeks long, so somewhat of an accelerated program but not really since I have summers off) and then started my 2nd 8 weeks of classes.

The 1st 8 weeks I had 3 classes (roles of a nurse, physical assessment, and pathophysiology) and meet for classes 3 days a week. Since the following 2nd 8 weeks I only had 2 classes (pharmacology and med-surgical) but we meet 4 days a week. But I don’t have morning classes so I would run during the day before my classes.

But then, I got a second job. And then spring break came. And then the first week back from break made me realize ahhh I have like no time before the semester ends!

And it definitely affected my running. And not the best time either!

Until today, I would run 2 times a week, doing a short run and completing/attempting the long run. Last weekend, I did the 12 mile run so I thought for sure I could complete the 13 mile run today, even though I didn’t run at all this week.

Nope. Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong.

I wasn’t smart. I did something new- I decided to run the prairie path since it was nice out and it would be great to try my new water bottle that I want to carry during my half marathon.

I knew it was nice out but had no idea it would go up to 80 and I wasn’t prepared for that at all. I should of fueled beforehand better. I should of carried my id and and credit card because I ran out of my Powerade and the water fountains weren’t in operation and I ran by so many places but didn’t have a way to pay for it. And the gravel stones getting into my shoes, and the amount of bugs flying around, I just wasn’t prepared for any of it. So different from running by my old middle school and the park next to it and definitely different from running on an indoor track!

But it was nice to run outside and I ended up running about half of it. I was pretty upset with myself but I knew a run is better than no run. I ended up completing a little bit more than 13 miles since on the prairie path I ran out to 6.5 miles away so I had no choice but to get back somehow. I contemplated many times to call someone to pick me up but it was nice out and I didn’t want to waste the day.

But ahh! 15 days until I ran DC! I gotta stick to the rest of the training up to the race!