So yesterday I ran my first half-marathon! Here is a pic of me at the finish line that my man snapped...
Now before I get into anything, I want to say that if you're thinking of running a half marathon…DO IT.
You can do it.
It does take time and you should train so you don't get injured but honestly throughout my whole training, I was amazed at how the strong the human body is. I never ran as a child or teen. I started running on and off when I was 21 (more about that journey here) and never imagined I'd be able to run 21.1km. BUT I DID IT! and so can you. Ok here's how I go to where I was today… (Please note, I am NO EXPERT. This is what just worked for me. If you have health problems and want to run a half marathon, you should consult a doctor!)
I started running with the run keeper App on my phone and I LOVE IT. Like really, really love it. I don't think I could do a run without it. They have a bunch of plans that help you train for your race. I went with this one. The plan had me doing at least 4 runs a week. Some weeks it went up to 5. Depending on the week I was in, I usually did only 3-4 runs per week. I missed a couple runs here and there and I was still fine (except when I went too hard at the beginning of a 21.75km run two weeks ago. My back hurt ALOT but I went to massage therapy and ran mostly on soft terrain until my race and I was good to go). The important thing is getting up to your long runs. This plan had you go up to 24km but I only went up to 22km. After I did 22km, obviously I knew I could do the 21.1km!
I liked doing the longer runs before the race as I was able to practice my eating and drinking strategies.
Here's what I wore for my race:
Nike Lunar Glides. (Although I need a new pair this summer as they're pretty much done!)
Lululemon Lightened up Singlet- I LOVE this tank. It's so lightweight and comfy and breathable. And after the race, it didn't even smell that bad. I wore my sports bra under and I was good to go.
Lululemon Shorts- I have a really old pair but they are kinda like this one.
Hydration Pack- I bought one from running room years ago and I'm so glad. Mine had 4 little bottles of water. I filled up 3 with gatorade and 1 with water. The gatorade provided the extra bit of sweetness to keep me moving and restore the electrolytes and all that jazz.
Nike Running Hat- There was rain in the forecast for the race so I was sure to wear my hat. I wear it for most of my runs because it keeps me shady in the sun and water off my face in the rain.
I read somewhere that you're supposed to carb up at lunch the day before your race. James and I went to Paggliacis and I ordered some yummy pasta. But it filled me up so much that I didn't want dinner…ha, probably not the smartest.
The night before I got about 7 hours of sleep. I'd rather get 8 but I was up late making the perfect playlist for the race (note to self- do this way more in advance!!)
I woke up at 5:45am and got out of bed at 6. I ate a piece of toast with peanut butter, a banana and had coffee. I made sure "I went" before the race (oh gosh, TMI, I know). This was the same routine for all my long runs. When I ran anything under 12km in the mornings, I wouldn't bother eating or drinking coffee before but on those longer runs, I needed something in my system.
I got to the race with about 20 minutes to spare and thankfully my urge to go pee disappeared!
I arrived at the race about 20 minutes before the start. This race in particular didn't have the best communication…I had to go online to find out where to pick up my packet and what time the race started (no email, no letter)….so I didn't feel the most prepared but I just did what everyone else was doing at the beginning. When the gun went off, everyone quickly walked to the tunnel and started running as soon as they finished the start line. I followed the crowd and hoped that was the right thing to do. My time at the end was different than my time on my running app, so I hope it didn't start before I crossed the start line.
Surprisingly I was very emotional at the start of the race and found myself getting teary. It was surreal accomplishing a goal that I had worked towards for so long! All the hours of training, all those runs in the freezing cold, the pouring rain, the snow….they were all paying off!
My friend Lisa Fehr sent me the most encouraging message the night before the race. She is an incredible runner and just completed a MARATHON so she knows her stuff! In the message she reminded me that I'd done all the hard work of training and all that was left was my 21.1km victory lap! She also reminded me to have fun, to actually enjoy the race. I took that advice to heart! (Thank you Lisa for your constant encouragement and advice, it meant sooo much to me!!!)
Honestly I can say that I had fun. I actually enjoyed the race and found myself constantly smiling and sometimes awkwardly dancing.
I took the first few kilometres pretty slow. I knew that if I went hard at the beginning, I'd hurt myself and not have enough strength for the last few kilometres. I felt a bit of anxiety in the first kilometre was there were SO many people around me. I'm a lone ranger when it comes to running and I like running in wide open places so the people around me made me a bit nervous. To cope with that anxiety I kept visualizing me running alone and it seemed to help. After km 3, people were spread out a lot more and it was great. When I was at km 7 the first place guy was running back towards the finish line..his time was 1:09…INSANE!!!!!
The weather actually turned out to be PERFECT. It rained a bit around km 2 but didn't last for long. It was overcast for the majority of the race and I was so happy about it. Not too hot, not too cold, just perfect…thank you Jesus!
During my training I developed a strategy for when I got tired or sore. Whenever I found myself complaining about sore feet or tired legs, I'd start thanking Jesus out loud for giving me strength, for making me healthy, for helping me on the run. Honestly, once my thoughts were off my sore body, I'd run quicker and stronger. I may have sounded crazy praising God out loud but I don't even care. Jesus is THE BEST running partner. nuff said.
So my strategy was to go the first half pretty easy and then pick up the pace around 14 km. At around 18 km I got very excited that the end was near and I picked up the pace. The last 3km were awesome aside for the gradual 200m hill at the very end of the race. You're running up a hill then you turn and you think the hill is done but then you realize it's not done. I was like YOU GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!! But when I reached the top of the hill, I could see that it was only 150 downhill to go…PTL.
I started down the hill and saw my love cheering me on. His cheers and the thrill of the finish line gave me the strength to sprint to the very end….YAAAAAY! After crossing the finish line, I stumbled around a bit, got a medal and then realized I needed to press stop on run keeper, ha.
So when I first signed up in December, I guessed it would take me around 2:15 to complete. During the training, I realized I was faster than that so I made a goal of 2:10. I am happy to report that my time (on Oak Bay Half's results) was 2:08:06. My time on run keeper was 2:07:27 (which was about 20 seconds late as I was stumbling around for a bit!) Either way I am so proud of myself as I trained hard AND had fun.
Below are screen shots of my run!
Running is something that I love to do. I run for health. I run for enjoyment. I run to think. I run to spend time with God.
I didn't set a crazy fast goal because I want to keep running. I don't want running to turn into something that conjures up feeling of guilt or shame if I don't make a crazy fast goal that I've set.
Will I do another half marathon?
Heck yes! Even though the crowds scare me, I definitely want to do another. I'm hoping to do the Royal Victoria one this October!
Will I do a marathon?
Probably not. But I won't say I won't ever do one.
I want to give a HUGE thank you to all my friends who have encouraged me the past months of training. You're amazing!!!
And thank YOU for reading this novel of a recap. If you have any questions on half marathons, send them my way and I'll try to answer them! (And if I don't know, I'll ask Lisa, ha)