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Surviving My First Half Marathon

News flash…Slow Girl crosses finish line.  I did it!  I survived my first half marathon!  I’m so thrilled because earlier this year when I started running, I set what I thought was a lofty goal to finish a half marathon and I did it.  Yay me!

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(Note:  The race coordinators used 2011 bibs so the date is wrong…what’s up with that?)

I will spare you the minute by minute account of my day and instead provide some highlights about what I thought went well, what I could have done differently and some advice I received that was helpful.

THINGS I DID WELL

  • Set realistic goals.  My primary goal was to finish. My secondary goal was to finish under three (yes, as in three hours). My secret unrealistic goal was to finish in 2.5 hours. That was silly since I’ve never run at that pace in my life. Can’t a slow girl dream? I’m happy that I accomplished my first two goals (finish time was 2:49:28 – luckily I did not win any awards as I would have missed the awards ceremony).
  • I stuck to Jeff Galloway’s training schedule and the entire training was injury free. It was the slow and steady method of training which worked out well for this slow girl!
  • I walked up the hills like a rock star. This was a hilly course, which I didn’t quite realize when I signed up.  When I found out about the hill situation, my strategy was to walk up the hills since it sucks to run up them.  Then, at every opportunity, I would make up the lost time by running downhill, at the expense of my poor knees.  One hill, fondly known as “Doomsday Hill”  took me 10 minutes to walk up – this was at mile 9.5.  Running it was just not going to happen for me at that juncture in the race.
  • Crossed the finish line in an upright position.  No crawling involved. I made it through miles 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 (yes, I will be listing each mile for a dramatic effect), 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and of course the little pesky .1 mile at the end!

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THINGS I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY

  • Incorporate more hill training since after all, this was a hilly course.  The hills slowed me down but at least they didn’t stop me.
  • Drink slowly at the drink stations.  I took a swig of some refreshing water and it went down the wrong pipe so I had a choking fit…almost made me pee my pants which would have been SO not cool.
  • Relax and don’t let nerves get to me.   I found no pleasure whatsoever in dreaming about dirty toilets the night before the race which probably had something to do with the porta-potties that gross me out SO much I can not convey…my stomach is turning right now so let’s change the topic. Ick.  Think about rainbows and unicorns.
  • Don’t get light-headed.  I got light-headed around mile 10 but I don’t know why.  I drank water all along the course, I ate my energy snacks throughout the run and had a breakfast I was used to having before a long run (small bowl of oatmeal).   I haven’t figured out the problem so I don’t yet have a solution.  Maybe my brain was having a “what the hell are we doing” moment?!

HELPFUL ADVICE I RECEIVED (Not professional advice and not claiming to be professional advice)

  • Walk up to the water stations and walk while you drink, it’s gentler on your stomach and goes down easier.  Advice from: Leesa, my hair stylist and recent half marathon finisher.  Everyone has their own preference…run or walk, and  clearly I didn’t follow the walking advice because I choked on my water.
  • Stretch, stretch, stretch.  Advice from:  Andrea, younger sister and half marathon finisher.  Stretch before the race and stretch just as much after.  I did this and even threw in a couple of stretches at mile 10 and 11 when my hips were screaming…”Stop and stretch us or we will stop working for you!”  So I did and it felt good.
  • Just enjoy your first half marathon.  Advice from:  Everyone who ever finished a half marathon.   Well, that’s just dandy advice but honestly, I enjoyed it most when it started and when it ended.  Miles 1-8 flew by.  Miles 9-11 sucked and then I was so happy to see mile 12 and I made a little friend by mile 12.8 (see, I’m even slow at making friends).  It was her first half too and we were feeling the same…tired, sore, wondering how far away the finish line really was. It was nice having someone nearby who was in the same boat as me.  I didn’t catch her name but fondly refer to her as Girl in Pink #1 (she had a friend in pink too…that’s a whole other blog).  When the finish line finally came into view and I saw my husband, son and friends/fellow runners Patty and Jeff cheering me on, I was elated and completely forgot all about pesky miles 9, 10 and 11.  All in all it was a super great day!!!

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Good luck to all the future first time half marathoners out there.  You will do GREAT!

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