EBR Rock Star: Christina Refford
It’s EBR Rock Star time! Today we’re chatting with Christina Refford, a Spring Fling runner (y’all… add your summer race to our Summer Sprint!) who completed her first half marathon in May (woo hoo!). Welcome, Christina!
You completed your first half marathon on May 5 – go you! Do you have any top tips for runners thinking about taking the plunge to try a half marathon?
I did finish the Navigant Half Marathon which runs part of the way along the Blackstone Valley bike path. Because it was in early May, I knew I’d want to train all winter which meant learning to love to run in the cold. Surprisingly, I DID love it—with the right gear and the right attitude, the cold weather feels so refreshing and it was awesome to run outdoors when almost everyone else was feeling housebound.
For me, that distance—13.1 miles—was HARD. It took a lot of out of me to run anything more than ten miles in training and during the race itself. In hindsight, I wish I had done some strength training to build up my legs more, and I wish I had sought out some hills too. Running on flat roads is great for confidence but I’ve learned my lesson: Hill training will be part of my life from now on.
For runners who have done a 10k, a half marathon is a very real and attainable goal. I ran/walked at a 4 minute: 1 minute ratio which felt right for me, and I finished with a smile on my face. No, I wasn’t a speed demon, but it was still such a feeling of accomplishment.
We here at EBR like food. What are your favorite pre and post race snacks/meals?
In the mornings, I must first start with a cup of coffee (coconut creamer and sugar too!) and a banana. Anything more than that and I feel like my stomach has a lead weight in it. If I’m running more than 4 miles, I bring a “GU” and water to slurp down. GU is truly disgusting and you should see the faces I make when I eat it, but it gives me the biggest kick in the pants and is pretty easy to get down. I’ve tried the chews and my jaw gets tired trying to eat them!
After running, I usually don’t have much of an appetite for a while. But, after a long run, I definitely down a big glass of chocolate milk which has all but eliminated the crushing fatigue I used to feel after an hour (or more!) of running.
Tell us about your essential running gear.
I’ve been wearing Brooks’ Adrenaline running shoes for years and years. I just buy the latest-and-greatest model whenever I get a new pair. I love how much room my toes have; these are just the perfect shoes for my feet.
I really like Target’s C9 by Champion line of running clothes which don’t cost a fortune but fit really well. And I just started wearing a Brooks running baseball cap which keeps my head cool and keeps the sweat out of my eyes. I can’t do without my Nathan Running Belt for my longer runs, and I put NUUN tablets into my water bottles for a little extra boost.
In the winter, I run in my old Hot Chillys skiing tights which are awesomely warm but not too bulky or hot, and then I layer, layer, layer on top. And, for running on snow, I adore my YakTrax which come on and off so easily and really do keep me from slip sliding away.
And finally (wow, I am a high-maintenance runner!), I prefer to run with music, so my iPhone is another essential piece of equipment. Tucked into my SPIbelt, it’s easy to reach if I need to take a call or check my pace on RunKeeper.
We know you dig tech. Tell us what social tools have helped you keep accountable while training.
The entire reason I am still running more than a year later is because of Jeff Galloway and his wonderful apps. I used his run/walk method to safely build up mileage without injury, and I will say it is a great way to get established as a regular runner without a lot of aches and pains which would normally derail me a couple of months into a training program. My pace was always pretty good, even with the walk breaks. I am now working on “only running”, and I credit Jeff Galloway’s method for preparing my body for this more intense workout.
I also love logging my runs on Daily Mile where friends can come and cheer me on or offer suggestions. And I just started tracking my progress on Run Keeper which allows me to see my progress day-by-day and also motivates me during a run by telling me my split times.
Are you inspired by any running bloggers? If so, who?
I love the Another Mother Runner website started by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea who both wrote the Run Like A Mother and Train Like A Mother books. Their articles and podcasts are perfect for anyone who is trying to juggle fitness and family, and their sense of humor always makes me smile. Also the women on their forums and on the Facebook page (also known as BAMR’s–bad-ass mother runners) are so supportive, funny, dedicated, and helpful, they make me want to be the best runner I can be.
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Christina Refford is a homeschooling mama to three kids, Senior Associate Editor at Cool Mom Picks and Cool Mom Tech, and blogger at The Fairly Odd Mother. She lives south of Boston with her husband, kids, and lazy black lab who refuses to run with her. She hopes to do a triathlon in 2014, and maybe tackle another, flatter half marathon in the not-too-distant future.