As many of you may already know, this past Sunday I ran my very first half marathon. Today, I would like to share that experience with you! I am very proud of my accomplishment to run 13.1 consecutive miles without stopping. Even more so, I am proud of the discipline I have gained due to the preparation I have enabled myself to. Running has been in and out of my life since middle school through track and cross country, but I never quite enjoyed running competitively.
As I mentioned briefly in my previous marathon blog, I simply cannot and will not run if the personal enjoyment has ceased. So, I quit cross country. I threw my track spikes into the garage and decided to, both figuratively and literally, discover a new path for myself. When my older sister asked me to do this run with her, however, I immediately said yes. I had my doubts and hesitations, but this race was not about running to me at all. I wanted the challenge and satisfaction of a goal with no guaranteed outcome of success because that part would be solely up to me and the the very soles of my feet.
Training with my best friend, running in my beautiful city, this was the new course I had been seeking. Every time I laced up my sneakers and pressed play on that One Republic song, I got excited for the next step in the journey. I will always be excited to better myself and work toward each goal I set. I want to be great.
Here are a few tips I found helpful before, during and after my race.
- Even if you do not end up completing the race together, train and race with someone with this intention. Have a person there to encourage and motivate you the day you run 8 miles in the pouring race simply because “it would be too boring to wait for the storm to pass.” Be able to high five your partner after you complete 11 miles with your fastest PR along the shores of Lake Michigan before the sun has fully risen.
- You may choke a little and spill Gatorade down your shirt, but take advantage of water stations. After just one mile, the humidity in Chicago had already set in even at 7 a.m.
- Change is good, but do not make any dramatic adjustments as you get closer to your race that may shock your body.
- Fuel your body with good food before and after. ALSO, AGAIN, STAY HYDRATED. Even with the water stations, I found myself lightheaded and nauseous after the race and needed to sit down shortly after.
- If given the opportunity, check out the course beforehand. Attending packet pick-up expo’s are fun too! Just do not listen to the chiropractors at the booth telling you you may have some type of body dysmorphia that may affect your entire body the day before the race.
- Listen to your body. If it is telling you to walk, WALK. If your muscles are screaming from exhaustion, but feel strong, keep your head up and finish.
- Once you are done: STRETCH, WALK, REST, REPEAT.
In retrospect, I am very glad I did this. As I am typing, I have a glass of water and a foam roller beside my bed. I am not a superhero and will need to continue to recover for several more days. This was not easy. I have said this before and I will say it again: running is an individual sport. It is our bodies and our muscles hitting that pavement, no one else’s. Despite this, I can tell you for a fact that I did not run this half marathon alone.
The night before I received several “good luck” texts. During the race, strangers smiled, high-fived and cheered me on. As I approached the finish line, it was hard to see my family through the enormous crowd. Although, I did catch a glimpse of my dad. My dad, who just spend 13 hours on a plane ride home from the other side of the country, woke up at 6 a.m. to watch his two oldest daughters run 13 miles.