Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My first (of hopefully many) half marathon

In an effort to actually follow through on at least one of my New Year's resolutions, I ran my first half marathon a few weeks ago. When I made it a resolution, I had been slacking on running for a while and knew if I committed early, it would be just the motivation I needed to get back to it! I was also growing more and more curious about how it would feel to run one since everyone who ever does seems to have an absolute blast. I didn't want to be left out!

Since I prefer running alone, I didn't know if I would be able to handle being surrounded by so many people. But I knew if I did end up liking it, signing up for races could provide a great opportunity to travel around to different locations I may not otherwise think to visit.

I started researching races around Minneapolis, but then figured if I was going to have to run with a bunch of people anyway, I might as well run with someone I actually liked. And if I could choose anyone to run with, it would be my little sister, so that's exactly who I asked. We decided on Omaha since it was the perfect halfway meeting point with a major bonus: our grandpa and his wonderful wife happen to live there also. We signed up for the Sept. 21 race in March, but I still didn't give myself quite enough time to get ready. Big surprise.


I didn't follow a specific training plan because I knew I wouldn't be able to fully commit to it, which would get me all stressed out and upset with myself, so I looked at a few different ones and adapted what I could to fit my schedule. I didn't end up running as much as I wanted to/should have, and mostly stuck to three-, six-, and nine-milers since I live right next to a lake with three mile running loop. My goal was to build up the endurance to comfortably run 13, regardless of time, without injuring my horrible knees that think and act they're 80 years old.

The week before

Above all other unpleasant concerns, from chafing to blisters to burning out and not finishing, my biggest fear was an angry, rumbling stomach.  My stomach is ridiculously sensitive when running is involved. I have to have just the right amount of food in just the right amount of time before I run or I am home to a very unhappy stomach with varying levels of severity.

Trying to avoid this, I started to cut fiber out of my diet starting Monday before the Sunday race, and I ate a lot of white carbs that entire week (mostly in the form of pasta). I was loving it at first but didn't feel so awesome after a few days. It must have helped, though, because I was stomach-problem-free on race day.

After reading different opinions on how often and long you should run the week before a race, I ended up running four days that week, skipping Friday and running an easy four miles on Saturday. 

Race day

The start time was 7 AM, which meant my alarm went off at 5:30. Our parents also made the trip down for the weekend and were happy to wake up early to drop and see us off! 

We hit the porta potty line as soon as we got there, and after about a 20 minute wait and some pacing around, we were lining up behind the starting mark.

The weather was perfect. I was cold while standing but warmed up to just the right temperature after about 10 minutes of running. I was a little anxious waiting to start, but when I turned my music on, I couldn't have asked for a better song: Savage Garden's "Affirmation." Judge away, but it's one of my favorites, and listening to that during the first five minutes of the race while watching the sun come up set the perfect mood for the next two hours.

My sister and I stayed together through about mile nine and then went our separate ways. With two miles left to go, Fort Minor's "Remember the Name" came on, and I listened to it on repeat until I crossed the finish line. Seriously. And it felt awesome.

My goal was really just to finish without walking to see how I would handle the whole event. I didn't want to push myself very hard, so I aimed for nothing higher than a 10-minute mile and ended up coming in under my goal, which was definitely a plus!

My reaction

I L.O.V.E.D. it! LOVED it! I could not believe how much fun I had, and half the time I couldn't even tell I was running. The spectators were great, the course was easy, and of course having seven family members there supporting us made it even more exciting. I cannot even begin to describe how amazing I felt toward the end. Instead of being annoyed by running so closely to so many strangers, I was inspired. It was such a rush, and I can't wait to experience it again.

My only complaint: the race ended with a lap around a track, but you were basically forced to stop immediately after crossing the finish line, which is a terrible idea. I wasn't able to slow down to a jog and then walk, and my hips did not appreciate that. I felt them jolt right away, and the six-hour car trip afterward didn't help either. They were sore for the next two days.

I want to sign up for as many half marathons as possible now, and though realistically I'm not in a place where I can do that right now, I am excited to continue running so I'm ready when I can actually sign up for more. My sister wants to train for a full marathon, but I'm still a little hesitant. Bodies were definitely made to move, but not all bodies—mine includedwere made to run. I do want to check at least one off in my lifetime, but I would really like to focus on getting better and faster at half marathons—they seem like a much safer distance for me.

I didn't have any knee pain leading up to the race, but in the past week I've felt the dreaded, all-too-familiar twinge in both of them, so my main focus right now is strengthening these big, ol' hips and glutes of mine!

I highly recommend you sign up for a race immediately, be it a 5K or a full marathon. I promise it will be some of the most fun you will ever have:)

1 comment:

  1. When you said went separate ways, I think you meant to say "left her in the dust as she filled up at the refreshment stations and couldn't keep up." haha.