Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My First Half Marathon

The half marathon. 13.1 miles.

For a self-proclaimed non-runner for SO many years, this was such an intimidating distance. However, training for it and completing my first half last month was SUCH a positive experience for me!

I started small. VERY small. A couch-to-5k app helped me progress from being unable to run for 5 continuous minutes to completing my first 5k in March. My surgery took me out for a while, but I slowly increased my mileage. At first, every run was torture. Everything hurt, my lungs burned, and I felt like 13 miles would never, ever happen.

I’ll never forget the day I ran 4 miles. It was the first time in my life I’d ever run that far. I never thought I could. But after slowly building up to it, I just went out one morning and did it. And you know what? It felt good. Better than good. I was hooked! How could my body go from 1 mile being excruciating to 4 feeling so casual? It was the turning point that transformed me into someone who actually enjoyed running. All those months of torture finally amounted to something.

After that, I increased my mileage weekly. I would do shorter runs a few times a week, and I mapped out my training plan so I would hit my longest distances a few weeks before my race (allowing me to taper). It went really well. The morning (before work) I ran 9 miles, I wanted to shout it to the world! I was loving this! Running was still hard, but suddenly it was a challenge I wanted to take on – I wanted to push my limits.

Of course, nothing ever goes as planned. The week of my 9-miler, I hurt my ankle. I figured it was something I should just shake off, so I continued with my shorter runs, but I eventually realized it was a bigger deal than that. I ended up having to discontinue my training plan for a few weeks, missing the Dirty Dash as well as all of my longer training runs.

The week before my race, I was able to do a pain-free 5-miler, so I knew that taking a break was the right decision, but I was terrified that I would struggle through my upcoming race due to lack of preparation. My anxiety was at an all-time high, but I knew I couldn’t back out at that point.

The event, put on by Goldilocks, was in Las Vegas on October 17th. We got started bright and early, and despite some women who got us nervous about the “hard course” we had chosen, I got off to a nice and easy start. The first 7-8 miles were uphill (ugh) and the sky was cloudy. I took things nice and slow, not wanting to burn out. Honestly, after hearing about the hills that I didn’t prepare for, I was just hoping to finish in under 3 hours (2:30 as a stretch goal). I felt really good, though, so I started to pick up the pace as I went.

It did end up raining, which felt amazing, and despite the major (ew ew ew) toe blisters that resulted (still got those suckers), the whole thing was quite pleasant. I never felt that gotta-die sensation I was expecting, and my splits were very negative (I’m talking minutes per mile faster). I finished strong with a sprint, I passed a ton of people in the last half mile, and I pretty much loved every second of those 2 hours and 17 minutes.

I’m so thankful that I’ve had this experience, and I will definitely do another half in the future. :) :)

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