Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of weekly columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

The last half training on Monday was our 9-mile loop to Civitan Park in Belpre and back to Parkersburg City Park. One word to describe it was HOT. It was very hot, very humid, and pretty much miserable. I was nervous about running 9 miles and I knew it was supposed to be a warm day. I was extremely unprepared. My friend and coworker, Hannah McMichael, decided to run this one with me. It was nice to have a partner running with me this time.

We headed out of City Park onto Washington Avenue. The first couple miles weren’t too bad. I was just trying to take my time and keep a reasonable pace going. We got to the water stop right before we were to run on the Belpre Bridge. I cannot stress enough my appreciation to those who take the time to set up these water stops, because without them, on this particular route, I would not have made it. It really hit me after the water stop and then running on the Belpre Bridge, how hot it was! It was hard to catch my breath.

I read some articles before-hand about how to best handle running in the heat. Nothing helps like first-hand experience! After the Belpre Bridge, runners went two different routes. They either went on Blennerhassett Avenue, or they went up Washington Boulevard. I decided to go on Washington Boulevard. There’s a hill right beside the soccer fields and that was it. I HAD to walk. I was a little disappointed because this was the first time I’ve had to walk during a training run, but it had to be done. I’ve actually ran on this road many times on my own, but not after already running 3 miles beforehand or in the dead heat. I was trying to not be discouraged.

Hannah and I decided after the hill we would keep running until we got to the park to take our water break. We walked up the hill and pushed each other to go ahead and start running again. We ran down to where the water was, took a few drinks, and rested a little bit. That’s when it dawned on me. We were only halfway through the run!

Instead of focusing on the fact we had about 4.5 miles to go, I tried to get my brain to understand, “you already ran this distance let’s do it again!” I stretched out my legs a little bit and then Hannah and I decided that we needed to go. Our goal this time was to run to the bridge and then if we needed to walk, we would walk. That’s exactly what happened. I most definitely needed to walk AGAIN on the bridge. May I mention again that it was miserably hot? Anyway, we walked across the bridge where we came back to the water stop at the end of the bridge. They had popsicles at this water stop, and I gratefully took one! Again, thanks to the volunteers!

At the water stop, I stretched out my calves; they were hurting at this point. Alongside of running, both Travis and Cecil have recommended some sort of cross training. I’ve been trying to hit the gym at least 4 times a week and then run 3 to 4 times a week to keep my stamina. I feel like even though at this point I felt exhausted, all of this has helped during this run. Once Hannah and I were done drinking our water and eating our popsicle, we hit the road again. It didn’t feel like we were in the sun as much during this part of the run so it felt a little easier to keep pushing through. When we went to the right before you cross the street onto Washington Avenue, I told Hannah to keep going. I needed to walk for just a few steps to catch my breath. I knew that the end of the run was almost done and I wanted to finish strong. I always try to do that. Even if I feel like I have had a horrible run, and I’ll chalk that one up to feeling like it was a horrible run, I want that last quarter mile to feel awesome. Once I got onto Washington Ave., I started running again and just kept going. I knew once I got over the hump in that road I was pretty much home free.

I ran into the City Park where Hannah was waiting. First thing I did was stop that Nike GPS app on my phone because I was done with it! We went over and got our drinks and stretched out. I have never been so happy to end a run. Some people were piling in and asking how we felt. I think the general consensus was everyone struggled at least a little bit on that run. Some of the more experienced runners came over and said not to be discouraged because it does get better. They reminded me the day of the run won’t be that hot because it’s in the morning and that the heat actually helps gets us prepared for the day because it actually doesn’t feel as bad. It was nice to hear the encouraging words from the other runners. One of the runners said if you could finish the 8 mile last week, you can physically do it. The rest is just mental.

So now I know for the training I will have to mentally prepare myself not for just the heat, but for also 10 miles. I have never ran 10 miles so at this point I’m just going to do what I set out to do and run the best I can! I’ve been hitting the gym hard and running on a regular basis. So now we will see what the next training run will bring! The next half training is at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 30. Hope to see you all there!

Here is also a shout out to Kristin Beatty. As previously stated, I personally do not know her, but we had a 5K at the Erickson and she showed up for it. It was a big encouragement to everyone to see her start the gun for the race and to also walk across that finish line. Stay strong and thanks for being an encouragement to everyone!

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a series of weekly columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

This past Monday, our training started at Jackson Park. It was our 8-mile run, and there were plenty of runners that forewarned me that this route was difficult. Hills were the name of the game!

We started out by the baseball fields at Jackson Park. That day, it stormed quite a bit and there was a downpour right before it was time to run. It wasn’t very hot, but it was humid. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Our first water stop was at Dairy Queen on 34th Street. I have been taking advantage of every water stop available on the longer routes, I know I would not be able to make it through without them. Thank you to all the volunteers that make time to do the water stops for us!

After Dairy Queen, we continued on to River Road. I ran part of this route previously in a race, so at least I kind of knew what to expect in this part of the course. I was on my own on this run; I really don’t have any running partners so I just tried to maintain my own pace. My goal was to run as slow as I needed to, but not to walk.

We got another water stop at the end of 55th Street. I took a few drinks of water and stretched out my legs a little bit. Then we started heading onto Rosemar Road. I did not like running on Rosemar, not in the least bit. It was a continuous hill, and long. I look up and it just felt like it was never going to end. There was a lot of traffic as well.

Halfway through the run, I’m thinking, “I’m only halfway through my run!” With the hills involved I was happy with my pace, because it was rough. I started reflecting on the past week and it gave me a little more confidence in my running goals. I had a personal best in one of my 5Ks and then I placed in my age categories in one of the races so it made me feel like I was making some sort of progress with what I was doing.

We ran back to Grand Central Avenue from 46th Street. It was rough for me getting back onto Grand Central. I was roughing it at this point, but I kept pushing forward. I turned up my music a little louder and kept going. Running has been a good way for me to relieve stress and just to block out everything else, even for that little bit of time I’m running. It has taken some time, but over time now I enjoy putting on my shoes and going for a run. I come back in a better mood and more focused! So even though this was a hard route and I knew I still had a little bit more to go, I felt proud of what I was doing.

However, I didn’t realize the hardest part was yet to come. We came back to the Dairy Queen on 34th Street where they had our last water stop. I knew the rest would be difficult because it was the hill leading up to Jackson Park. I remember running the hill during the Vienna River Road race. It was difficult, and I didn’t think it would be any easier adding more mileage to it! They offered us popsicles as well on that water stop, but I honestly wanted to just drink some water and get it done! I headed up toward the hill and kept going and kept going some more! The hardest part for me was when we got back on the trail. It was very difficult! At times, I wanted to stop and walk but I didn’t because I knew I just had a little bit left. The whole time on the trail I’m thinking, “Hill training is starting next week!”

I finally saw the end of the trail. Out of all the runs, I was never so happy to see one end. It was the most challenging run I have had to date. However, at the end of a run like that, I felt very accomplished! It’s a good feeling to have and I hope to have some more of them soon. Also, I feel like I’m setting a better example at home. I’m trying to eat healthier, because I don’t want to put all this work into running for nothing. The healthier I eat, the better I feel on my runs. And now my daughter who is 4 has been wanting to “run” as well. There are plenty of kids races that go along with some of the 5Ks in the area, so any little ones who want to run some of these races, sign them up! They have a lot of fun and it’s a good experience!

The next half training is back at the Parkersburg City Park for our 9-mile run on Monday, June 23. Hope to see you all there!

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of weekly columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

This past Monday was our 7-mile route. We met at the City Park. I got there about 20 minutes beforehand and talked with a few of the runners that I have seen at some of the races. I’m an introverted person so I like listening to some of the techniques they use or hear some of the problem areas they are having and what they are doing about it while others are talking.

This past week I decided to change up my running a little bit, mainly so it didn’t get monotonous. I went out a few times this week and did some interval training. I would run a faster mile, then I would walk fast for a half mile and would do that 3 or 4 times.

Before it was time for our run, we got an update on Kristin Beatty, who recently got hit by a car which resulted in her leg being amputated. I don’t personally know her, anything I know I have heard from other people and on Facebook, but I hope she knows she has a huge support system in this River City Runners and Walkers group. This group is simply amazing! I know I am new to the group, but to see people come together in a time of need, it’s always a special thing to witness. I know I can speak on behalf of the group in saying we are praying, and keeping you in our thoughts. Stay strong, Kristin!

On this run, instead of running a lap around the City Park first, we started out on Washington Ave. It was cooler this run, it felt very nice; it was wonderful running weather. The other runners kept saying, “don’t get used to it,” so I kept that in mind! I tried a gel packet before the run. The run started off great for me. I don’t know of it was a mixture of the gel packet and the cooler temperatures, but I felt pretty good!

I was trying to maintain pace with a few people I have seen regularly at the marathon trainings that have been in my pace before. It’s hard sometimes not to talk to someone while I am running because it really does keep my mind off what my body is trying to tell me. I’m slowly learning how to listen to my body to determine what is truly pain and what is mental. Also, in this process, I’m learning to run MY run and not try to do what everyone else is doing.

About 2.5 miles in, I got to the first water stop and was feeling great. I didn’t feel winded or any kind of cramping. I got a few drinks of water and kept running. We incorporated 7th Street into our route this time. I have never run on 7th Street before, so that was a new experience for me. It felt challenging for me, because 7th Street seems to be a steady incline. I was trying not to go all-out on this run because I knew I had a 5K the next day and I usually take the next day off after one of my longer runs. But, I was keeping a good pace and didn’t want to let go of it. Around 7th Street, I started running with a man named Tony. We started talking and learned that we both have just started running 5Ks and running longer distances. These are the things I love about this group and about running in general. All of us are running, for so many different reasons, and it has been interesting meeting new people even during the middle of a run.

We had another water stop on 7th Street. I’m very thankful to the volunteers who take the time out of their day to give us water during our trainings. I got some water with a squirt of Gatorade in it, relaxed for a few seconds, and then Tony and I headed out. I felt like the interval training I did this week really paid off. Around 5.5 miles, I started to feel like my breathing was getting heavier, but I pushed through it. It helped to have someone running with me to keep my pace steady. We turned by McDonald’s and headed back toward the park. This part was mainly flat so we both kept up the pace we had and kept pushing forward. We got to 6 miles and I told him 1 more mile to go! We got to the park and he told me to go ahead and finish strong. I picked up my pace some when I entered the park and just kept going. I got to the point where all the people were waiting for the others to finish, but on my GPS it said I didn’t hit 7 miles yet, so I kept running because I wanted to make sure I got the full 7 miles in.

After my run, I came back to the group and got some water. I stretched my legs and hips out to cool down. I felt very comfortable with this run and feel like I’m making some sort of progress. However, from here on out I will be pushing myself on the distances. 7 miles is the farthest I have run on my own, so I’m anxious for the upcoming trainings and how I can push myself. The next training will be at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 16, at Jackson Park. Hope to see you all there!

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a series of weekly columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

Monday was the second training for the half marathon. This time our route was 6 miles. I was somewhat nervous for this run because I didn’t get as many runs in the previous week as I would have liked. Due to the running my body isn’t quite used to yet, I had to go to the chiropractor to get my hips readjusted and he told me not to run the night he adjusted me.

I got there about 20 minutes before our run was supposed to start. It seemed like there were more people at this training run than the previous one. I paid for my training shirt, as I have to have one for my first half marathon! I talked with Cecil Chapman before it was time to run. I have run with Cecil a few times, and he has given me pointers, especially when I first started to run. The announcer at the training pointed out who I was to the group. I was happy to have sunglasses on at that point, as I was trying to remain incognito.

It was time to start the run. It was the same route we ran last week, except we added a lap around the park this time. I was all on my own this run, I don’t really know anyone who’s on my pace at this time, so I put my headphones on and started off. I’m learning I start out slow, not that I’m not slow the whole time anyway, but starting off is definitely a challenge.

My legs usually feel tight and I feel winded right at first. Halfway through the lap at the park, I see people passing me left and right, and people much older than me as well. I know other runners have to think this in their head, right? So, I’m thinking at that point, I have a lot of work to do!

We finished our lap and headed toward PHS by going on Washington Ave. I was trying out a new arm band for my iPhone since I listen to music while I run. Music is just as much therapy for me as running is, so it is nice I can combine the two. I have already torn through two iPhone bands; this one wasn’t doing much better. An armband might not seem like a big deal during a run, but having to readjust it the whole time doesn’t help matters and keeps my head out of the run. My mission this week is to find a better arm band.

About a couple miles in, I felt like I was loosening up and getting a good stride. I saw a few of the people that I was in pace with last run, so I felt good that I was keeping up the pace even without a running buddy. During the run I had a lot to think about, especially since there wasn’t someone beside me to talk with. Being a teacher, my mind was running through all the end-of-the-year things I needed to get accomplished between this week and next. This school year is almost over, here’s a shout-out to all the teachers!

Halfway through the run, it was starting to get pretty warm. All the runners warned me that it was going to get hot throughout these trainings and that the first training would be the coolest we would get. They weren’t lying! I started running in the cold, so I really haven’t had any experience running in hotter temperatures; the hottest run I had so far was the Mother’s Day 5K run. We got our water stop a little over halfway through our run. I’m thankful and I’m sure I can speak on behalf of the other runners and walkers, we’re grateful for those who volunteer their time to give us that water! I got a couple drinks of water, caught my breath and started running again.

I felt better after the water break and felt like I was getting a little bit faster pace going. During my run, I use the Nike Running App because it will keep the time of the run and also the pace per mile. It keeps me honest. I kept running and listened to my music. I would try to run to someone I saw in front of me and at least keep pace with them, even if it was for a little while. Around the 4-5 mile mark, I really did start feeling winded but I kept pushing myself. Like I said, I never really ran in the heat, so I’m still getting used to running in warmer temperatures. I knew I could complete 6 miles so I wasn’t going to stop!

I saw PHS in my sights, which yet again, is a good sight because I know I’m close to being done. However, I knew I had Washington Avenue on the way back, which seems to be just a steady incline and really pushes me at the end of the run. I got behind two ladies that were running ahead of me because I knew on the last run I started to slack off at this point. There’s the hill right before we get to the park and I just pushed myself up it because I knew not long after that I got to go down the hill that leads into the park and we are done! I have noticed with more consistent running and the more races I have competed in, I’m getting a little better on the hills. Before I had to walk them, but at least now even if I have to run slow, I’m getting up those hills!

I got to the bottom of the hill and into the park and ran to the group of people who were already done. I got a cup of water and Gatorade, well maybe two cups. I walked around a little bit, then sat down under the pavilion to catch my breath. I stretched out my legs, especially since I have been having problems with my hips. I talked with a few of the runners; I still don’t know everyone’s name yet. During the run, I’m thinking what did I get myself into, but once the run is finished and complete my thinking changes to when can we go this again? It feels good knowing I got a run complete and I’m interested to see how far I can push myself.

I have enjoyed getting to meet new people, especially through the River City Runners and Walkers Club. They are all very nice and encouraging; I recommend running some of these races they put on! During the race, it’s not uncommon just to hear a runner encourage someone else and say “Awesome Job or “Keep Going”. I know during the YMCA Spring Sprint after one of those hills I was talking about, I started to walk and someone ran past me and said, “Keep going. If you got this far you can run the rest of the way”. I have no idea who that person was but thank you, it gave me the push I needed!

The next half marathon training is Monday June 9 at 6 p.m. at the Parkersburg City Park. Please join us if you would like to run with an awesome group of runners and walkers!

Half Marathon Diary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of columns by Kayla Dunn, a 25-year-old Belpre resident who is training to run in the News and Sentinel Half Marathon on Aug. 16. Dunn is a 25-year-old Belpre resident who teaches Autistic students at Fairplains Elementary School.

My running background:

I have been involved in athletics all my life. I have played many different sports, including volleyball and basketball where running wasn’t the main focus. In fact, I ran track for one year and that was it, because I didn’t like it. So my reasoning for picking running as a New Year’s resolution is anyone’s guess.

Although I am in involved in different leagues, it’s not easy just to go out and play volleyball and basketball like I used to do. However, I can put on my running shoes, leave the house and go for a run. One day I decided to go for a run and see how far I could go and I went 2 miles without stopping. I decided to join the River City Runners Club and started running 5Ks in January; yes, I picked the coldest winter of all time to start running, however I did it!

This past Monday was my first half marathon training experience. I was very nervous the night before, especially since I didn’t really know what to expect. I was excited to start the training and see how far I could push myself. I knew the first run was 5 miles, so I felt confident in knowing I could complete that. I made sure to get some decent sleep and ate a good dinner so I would be ready for the morning run. I got up around 6:15, ate a banana and drank some water. I have definitely learned to force myself to drink more water since I started running.

I arrived at the park about a half-hour before we were supposed to run. Driving into the park I saw a big group of people all in their running gear, stretching and getting loosened up. My nerves really started to kick in then! These people knew what they were doing. What am I doing here? I found a parking spot, took a deep breath and walked up to the group of people.

Travis Daugherty, a former high school mate, greeted me when I got to the group and started introducing me to other runners. I have asked him tips before about running and things I could do to make myself better, so I was glad that he was there for my first training. I saw a lot of familiar faces from running the previous races and started putting names to faces.

When it was about time to start the run, a voice came over the speaker, greeted us, encouraged us to do our best and explained how some of these trainings work and the routes that we would be running. I didn’t even want to think about the longer distances! I just wanted to survive today with a smile on my face. We started to run and Travis was nice enough to run with me. We started on Washington Ave and worked our way toward Parkersburg High School.

“I’m on Top of the World” was the first song that came on through my iPod. I thought it was fitting.

Travis gave me a lot of pointers during the run. I listened to the pointers he gave. It made a huge difference. When we started to run on some inclines he made sure to tell me to keep my chest open, keep my wrists below my elbows, and don’t be hunched over. He also shared some games to play if I was with a running buddy to help keep your focus and heart rate up during the run. There was a water stop about halfway through the run and you bet I took advantage of it. I got my drink of water and then proceeded on with my run. Travis was pushing my speed the whole time, whether he meant to or not. He kept checking to make sure I was good or if I needed to walk, but I kept trucking through. The best line of the day from Travis was, “Run when you can, walk if you need to, and crawl if you must.”

We started heading back toward Parkersburg High, I must say I was happy to see that! That meant we were close to being done with the run. I could tell on Washington Avenue, I was starting to die down a little, but Travis yelled back at me and said, “Let’s go” and it motivated me and pushed me forward. I got past the Washington Avenue hill and kept going and could see the park ahead. When we were almost done with the run, Travis told me our time and we had run a minute faster on the mile than I ever had. It truly helps me to have someone there to push me to keep going.

Running has become an outlet for me and has become something to look forward to do either in the morning or when I get off work. I can just put a pair of headphones in, go for a run, and come back feeling refreshed!

Our next training is at 6 p.m. on Monday, June 2 at the City Park. If you are thinking about doing the Parkersburg News and Sentinel Half Marathon this year, I would highly recommend joining us for the next training. Hope to see you there!