Last weekend I successfully completed my second 1/2 marathon and I had a blast! Everything about this half marathon was different from my first half (well, the distance was the same). The training methods I used, the actual race course, my goals, how I felt after…all different…and I think that’s a good thing! So here’s a little recap about the differences between my first and second half marathons:
- Half marathon #1 (HM1) was an unforgiving, hilly, exhausting, “why am I doing this to myself” kind of course. It was all hills and yes, I am exaggerating but I spent a great deal of time walking up hills.
- Half marathon #2 (HM2) was as flat as a delicious pancake dripping in syrupy yumminess. Sounds appealing, huh?! The course was new to me, which was a great distraction, the surroundings were beautiful, and did I mention it was flat…?
- My goal for HM1 was to finish. Plain and simple. Finish it. And I did. My time was 2:49:28 but it didn’t matter and I didn’t care because my goal was to finish and I accomplished my goal!
- My goal for HM2 was to finish it with a time of 2:30 or less. Keep in mind, this was a lofty goal for me since I’m a slow runner. That would mean I needed to run at an average pace of 11:27 per mile. I was pretty sure I could do that. At mile 1, my watch read 11 minutes. Mile 2 = 22 minutes, mile 3 = 33 minutes, and it was like that until mile 7. I was impressed with myself for being so consistent. In mile 7, two things happened – the math got harder (77 minutes minus 60 = 17 minutes, carry the 1…and so goes my brain). The other thing that happened is I had to pee. I have a pretty strong bladder unless I’m bouncing up and down on it for 77 minutes (minus 60, carry the one = 1 hour 17 minutes). So I waited in line at the porta-potty and used up 2 minutes and 12 seconds of precious time (yes, I actually timed it). These minutes ended up mattering because my finish time was 2:32:58. If I could have skipped the bathroom break, my time would have been 2:30:46…which is basically making my goal as far as I’m concerned…who cares about the pesky seconds anyway?!?
- My other goal for HM2 was to have fun and enjoy the experience. I accomplished that goal as well!
- HM1 training consisted of Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method. I trained alone, mostly on my treadmill, and I stuck to my plan like nobody’s business. Ultimately, I ended up doing 3 minutes running then 1 minute walking and that was my race plan…except when there were hills. When I approached a hill, I walked up the hill then ran as fast as I could down the hill.
- HM2 training consisted of joining a training group. You can read about this bold decision here. It turns out, this was a very wise decision. I learned a great deal, like how to breathe, running form, speed work, all that good running stuff. There were mentors who helped me along the way. In fact, at around mile 12.75, I was SO hurting and wanted to walk even though the finish line was right there. I started to walk and one of the mentors (who had already crossed the finish line) came up to me and said (encouragingly), “You can NOT stop running now. Is your family at the finish line?” I replied, “Yes.” She said, “Then start running, you want them to see you finish strong! Just follow me!” So, I followed her and kept running. That kind of encouragement and motivation is priceless and she really helped me finish strong. Thank you Staci!
- With HM2, I had a training plan but I didn’t stick with it as much as I did for HM1. I did the weekly planned group runs (except for the 11 mile run) but didn’t do so well with cross-training. This half marathon plan was not a ‘run/walk’ plan. It was a ‘run/run’ plan so I ran the majority of the entire 13.1 miles…toward the end, I needed to take a few walk breaks because of my hips and knees, but other than that, I ran.
HOW I FELT THROUGHOUT THE RACE:
- HM1 was kind of intimidating because it was my first half, I didn’t know what I was in for, I saw a couple familiar faces before the race but not one familiar face was to be seen for the duration of the run. I felt excited on one hand, but as mentioned above, the course was hilly which really took a toll on me toward the end. I think in my focus shifted from, ‘Wow, look what I’m doing’ to ‘I’m so uncomfortable, why am I doing this?’ When it was over, I was sore but recovered rapidly and felt great the next day.
- HM2 I had a mission to “Run the mile I was in”. I read a great post by Wise Running that talked about just enjoying the mile you are in…don’t focus on what you’ve done or need to do, just focus on the present mile. I thought of that over and over, I focused on breathing and counting (it relaxed me), and I thought of how fortunate I am to be able to run. Keeping my mind focused on those things kept me moving. I felt super throughout the run. Well, except when my hips and knees started hurting. At that point I needed some walk breaks. After the run, my knee was really hurting and it took a couple of days before I was able to wake up and not feel like my legs took a beating.
BEST RACE MOMENT:
- HM1’s best moment was finishing the half marathon. I was very proud to finish, to remain uninjured and to walk away knowing I wanted to do another half marathon…just not THAT particular half marathon!
- HM2’s best moments were: Finishing, of course, and doing so in a time I was proud of (and setting a personal record, to boot). I loved the fact that I saw familiar faces all throughout the run. I saw runners from my training group, I saw the coaches cheering us on, I saw my BFF and her family on the course since they were race volunteers. And best of all, I saw my family at the finish line. My son was in the crowd running along with me for the last couple hundred feet. I yelled out to him, “Keep running with me, you’re keeping me motivated!!” When I crossed the finish line and met my husband and son there, I said to my son, “Thank you so much for running with me!” He said in his matter of fact tone, “Mom, I was just walking.” Oh, ok…so if he was walking, and I felt like I was sprinting, I guess reality lies somewhere in the middle 🙂
Thank you to my family and friends for all your support during my training and my second half marathon! Sometimes it takes a village 😉
Has running taught you any great lessons?