This past Sunday I ran my first ever half marathon! And after 5+ years of running consistently, it was long overdue. My goal was to simply finish the race without having to walk any of it and while I wasn’t necessarily running it for time, I was hoping to finish the race in under 2 hours (averaging a 9 minute mile). Needless to say when I crossed the finish line at 1:53 (averaging a 8:38 minute mile), I was elated and couldn’t believe I’d run it that fast! I hadn’t run anywhere close to this pace in any of my long runs during training so when I was able to completed the run about 7 minutes faster than I hoped, I was shocked. It was a lengthy, physically and mentally demanding training process but I’m happy to say that the end result was well worth it.
This result did not come, however, without a share fare of ups and downs throughout the training process and even the race itself. Throughout the course of my training I experienced Plantar fasciitis (a fancy way of saying tight arches), stomach issues, dehydration, extreme loss of salt that and led to intense nausea post runs, toe cramping and a pinched nerve in my shoulder. For each new obstacle that I came across, however, I was able to come up with a solution. I was able to take pressure off my arches by purchasing new shoes, was able to change my diet to avoid stomach issues, made sure to include water stops on my long runs, added Cliff Bloks to my runs to replenish my salt intake, and heated my pinched nerve for about 4 hours to reduce the swelling. (I’m still working on figuring out just what’s wrong with my toes but you win some you lose some) And after abating the impacts of all of the ailments I experienced, I went into the race feeling physically good but mentally still a little uneasy.
On the day of the race I felt confident in my running abilities but unsure of how my stomach would hold up given I’d never run that far before. I had eaten a banana and peanut butter sandwich in advance and knowing that this had kept my stomach at bay during my previous 12.6 mile run, I was hoping it would do the trick for this run too. The race started out slowly as everyone herded out of the gate and continued to bump into each other for the first mile or so. After the crowd spread out a bit I was able to go at what felt like a comfortable pace for about 7 miles or so. That’s when the toe cramps started. I’d experienced these before on my long runs and had dealt with them by simply stopping for 30 seconds or so to roll my toes around and alleviate the pressure that had built up. Obviously I wasn’t intent on doing this during the race so I attempted to alleviate the pain by running on the sides of my feet. Yes, it looked odd but it did the trick for at least a mile or two! I repeated this process every couple miles until the point I resigned my fact that I would have to run through the pain. And after a couple miles of lingering toe pain and multiple under my breath swears, I was able to finish out strong and run across the finish line!
After the race I was quickly greeted by my friend Kelsey who came to support me as well as my mom and Lila Bear (who attempted to lunge into the course on first sight of me). They were incredibly congratulatory and proud of me and since I honestly couldn’t yet wrap my head around what I’d just done, having them tell me how awesome I did really helped me come to and take in the moment.
Right now I can’t tell you if I’m going to do another half but I can say that training for and running this race has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in years. As we get older I find the moments that we have to celebrate our accomplishments become fewer and far between. And it’s because of this that moments like this mean so much to me now. This race was no exception. Thank you to everyone who pushed me and supported me along the way and congrats to everyone else who ran!