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So You’re Going to Run a Half Marathon Part 6 – When the Race is Over

This is the final segment of my “So You’re Going to Run a Half Marathon” blog-a-thon.  If you want to catch up on parts 1 – 5, you can check out my deep thoughts (with a sprinkling of hilarity) here:  Researching Your First Half Marathon, The Training Plan, Acquiring the Gear, The Mental Stuff and The Day of the Race.  I know, it’s a lot of amateur advice to take in.  But like I said, deep and hilarious – if you like it like that.

So here is my not so sage advice on what to expect when the race is over.  Once you finish a half marathon and you’ve let your awesomeness sink in, you will need to come up with 3 (yes, THREE) versions of your race day story:

  • Version 1 – This is what you tell clueless acquaintances.  These are the folks who don’t really know you all that well and don’t even really know what a half marathon is.   You just tell them that you ran a race and it was fun.  So, your conversation might sound something like this:
      • Chuck, the clueless acquaintance:  “Hey, how was your weekend?  Do anything fun?”
      • You, the half marathon finisher:  “Well, it was a pretty busy weekend.  I actually ran a half marathon. “
      • Chuck:  “Dude, seriously?  Did you win?”
      • You:  “Well, no.  It was my first half marathon and it was 13.1 miles so I really wasn’t trying to win, just trying to finish…which I did, by the way.”
      • Chuck:  “So, you didn’t win?  Bummer.  Sorry about your downer weekend.”
  • Version 2 – This will be for people who love to run…People who have finished a half marathon, a marathon or any long distance race.  This is where you can go crazy and describe all your gory race details.  We want to know what miles 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 were like.  Tell us all about miles 5, 6, 7 and 8.  And did you hate miles 10 and 11?  Were you stoked by mile 12?  Were you falling down by mile 13 or were you sprinting to the finish?  We want to know about running hills, hitting walls, temperature, pace, what your medal looked like.  Did you cramp up?  What did you eat?  What was on your playlist?   Were the lines long at the porta-potty?  Did you experience any chafing?  Did you cry?  WE LOVE THE DETAILS!!!  So, please do your non-running family and friends a favor, save Version 2 for the runners in your life and come up with Version 3 for your other friends and family.
  • Version 3 – This is for the people close to you who know how hard you trained and understand all the work you put into finishing the half marathon.  You can tell them the details of your story but don’t do it mile by mile.  Tell your story emotion by emotion…they’ll relate better 🙂  And, by all means, if they ask for details, do not hold back!

Other important “When the Race Is Over” things you should know:

  • You will feel like a bad ass.  Quite honestly, you should feel like one.  And you can even act like one for a few days if you want.  I’m pretty sure it’s in the half marathon policy manual somewhere.
  • You should reward yourself in a meaningful way.  Here’s how I rewarded myself :  1) The day after the race, I took a vacation day.  I honestly wasn’t sure  I would be able to move, so I thought I better play it safe.  I actually felt GREAT the day after the race!  Nice, relaxing day off…Check!  2)  I promised myself a new pair of running shoes.  The weekend after the half, I went to a local running store and had a pro assess my running situation and make a couple of shoe recommendations.  New Shoes…Check!  3)  I got a pedicure.  My poor feet deserved that pedi.   Cute toes…Check!  Those were the things that made me happy.  I’m so easy to please.
  • You should sign up for another race.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a half marathon, a 5k or a 10k.  Just sign up for something so you have a race to look forward to and you keep yourself in the running groove.
  • Lastly, in my experience, I had a lot of bone head moments shortly after the half.  My not-so-scientific explanation is that running a half marathon takes a great deal of focus and I’m pretty sure the week following the race, my brain was taking a breather from the half marathon focus factor.  Maybe it’s just me.  But if it’s not, please let me know your experience so I don’t feel like a weirdo.

So, first time half marathon finishers to be, my advice is to enjoy your journey.  From figuring out which race you’re going to run, to tracking all your training progress to crossing that finish line.  It will make you proud and you will inspire people around you…maybe even that dumb ass acquaintance Chuck will be in awe once he figures out what a half marathon is.

Go forth and train, run, finish then be a bad ass!

Post Half Marathon Bonehead Moments

Since completing my first half marathon last week, it seems that some brain cells were damaged in the process.  Usually I would blame my “bonehead moments” on my puppy but this time I will blame it on all the extra brain activity that took place during the half marathon.  Sure, running may not seem like it requires a whole lot of thinking but believe me, a whole lot of thinking actually takes place.  It requires so much focus, in fact, that it reduces your post-race focus capacity.  I’m not sure how long this will last but I’m hoping it’s short lived.  Take a look at the bonehead moments I’ve had since finishing the half marathon (most recent bonehead moment just a couple of hours ago):

1.  FAILED TO USE CAUTION WHEN PUTTING ARM WARMERS ON.    I bought some new Brooks arm warmers which are great for running in the chilly fall temperatures.  However, when I put them on, I had to tug on the top of the arm warmer to get it high enough up my arm.  As I was tugging with all my might, my fingers slipped and I hit myself in the mouth.  Ouch. When I was done swearing and wiping the blood from my lip, I tried again.  I hit myself again.  Damn it.  The next time I tried, I turned my head toward the opposite arm and was able to successfully put the oh so dangerous arm warmers on my arms.  My advice – when putting arm warmers on, don’t look down to see what your hand is doing.  Look the other way just in case your fingers slip.

2.  NEGLECTED TO OPEN GARAGE DOOR BEFORE BACKING CAR OUT.   Yeah, I said it.  Make sure your garage door is ALL the way open BEFORE backing your car out.  As I was backing out of the garage, I heard a terrible crashing sound.  My first thought was, “Dear Lord, please tell me that wasn’t one of those little dudes from the neighborhood.  I told them about that blind spot.”  I didn’t hear any screams so my second thought was that I ran into the trashcan.  Neither had happened.  When I got out of my car to assess the situation, I saw the garage door sitting on top of the roof of my car.  Crap.  That’s not good.  Luckily, I did not break the garage door and the roof of my car was scratched but intact.  Now that I think about it, I should have taken a picture…it would have been a nice visual for this imageless blog entry.

3. FORGETTING TO PAY ATTENTION TO MEAT PACKAGING.  You know how when you buy meat at the grocery store the butchers put it in those Styrofoam trays  then Saran Wrap the crap out of it?  Well, when you buy hamburger meat for, let’s say, chili, don’t just cut open the Saran Wrap and dump the contents of the meat in your pot and start cooking.  Did you know they put a little absorbent plastic-y pad under the meat so the blood doesn’t slosh around inside the package (gag)?  Yeah, that little sponge-like item does NOT go in your pot of chili.  It will not enhance the flavor!  I unknowingly threw that little sucker into the pot of chili but luckily, was able to retrieve it before the plastic melted.

4.  FORGETTING PIN (number) AT THE GROCERY STORE.  I’ve had my PIN for how long?  There are how many digits to commit to memory?  I use it how many times a week?  That’s supreme boneheadedness right there….forgetting my PIN in the checkout line at the grocery store.  So embarrassing.  I have never forgotten my PIN before.  Why now?

5.  FAILING TO WALK GRACEFULLY ON WET, SLIPPERY SURFACES.  So a couple of hours ago I took a nice leisurely spill on the wet steps while leaving work.  My boot heel slipped under my foot, my ankle rolled, I fell on the ground, I picked my sorry ass up off the ground (mainly because I knew I could be seen on the security camera), I hobbled back inside and called out for a little help.  It was pathetic and it was painful and it made me tear up a little.  I cried not only because it hurt but because I didn’t see myself running anytime real soon (and I just bought myself some new running shoes yesterday, too Sad smile).

There you have it…the potential dangers of thinking too hard when running a half marathon.  Take heed fellow runners.  While running, make sure you don’t use up all of your brain juice…leave some so you don’t experience post-race focus capacity issues.

Has anyone else experienced post-race focus capacity issues………or is it just me?!  Smile

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!


(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.


  • 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!



  • 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!!!


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