My First Half Marathon

So as you may or may not know, I ran my first half marathon this past weekend. I wrote a post about it when I first signed up about 8 weeks ago. I was excited but scared, thrilled but terrified. Before taking the leap to sign up, I had run maybe 5.5 miles at a time max. So I knew 13.1 was definitely going to be a challenge, but I had 8 weeks and faith that I could do it.

Some background on my running in general - in high school I could run 1 mile...maybe...on a treadmill. During gym class, I never could (or maybe I just wouldn't) run the mile in full. So in short, I was not a "runner" growing up.

Fast forward to about 2 years ago, I started running outside and eventually worked my way up to a bit over 5 miles which I ran a couple days a week. I actually didn't hate running. It made me feel good, and it was an accomplishment to come from not being able to run 1 mile to running 5+. On and off over the last year or so, I'd run here and there 3-5 miles. It wasn't as big of a part of my life, but I could still do it.

So I decided to take the big leap and commit to a half marathon in February with one of my best friends. She had run a few before, so she sent me her training schedule. I started out following it at week 3 (it was a 10 week schedule, and we were 8 weeks out). I literally followed it to a tee, and I kept up. I ran up to 10 miles which was honestly huge for me. I would've never dreamed or tried to do that before.

My long runs were on Saturdays, and after 10 miles came 11 and then 12 the two following Saturdays. 12 was the longest run of the training, and then it worked back down until the final 13.1 run on the actual marathon day. I was kind of dreading those 11 and 12 mile runs after I had finished 10 miles, but I felt confident and able.

So the Friday before the 11 mile run arrives, and I start feeling like I have a cold. GREAT. Colds are the worst because everybody's like, "Oh it's just a cold," but you still feel like freakin' shit. I wasn't counting out running the next day by any means, so I decided to try to go to bed early and hope for the best in the morning.

I wake up Saturday still feeling like crap. Within an hour I have a 102 degree fever which lasted all day (and through out Sunday), I'm exhausted, delirious, and achey. So running was not in the cards. I accepted it. One day is not the end of the world, and hopefully I'd be better by my next run day, Monday.

Monday comes, still really sick. Tuesday and Wednesday pass, and I finally make myself go to the doctor. He can't tell me anything except that now I have bronchitis because whatever virus I have has managed to go down into my brochioles which is just annoying and painful. And oh yeah, since it's viral, no meds will help. I was literally sick until the following Sunday and still had a cough here or there for days after that.

I finally got back into running that Monday, but I had missed both the 11 and 12 mile runs. I managed to do the 4 miles on my training schedule for that Monday but was a coughing mess during and after the run. My next run was scheduled to be 6 miles. I could run 4. I pretty much wanted to cry. I could only run 4 miles and was a couple of weeks out from needing to run 13.1.

That weekend I was supposed to run 9 or 10 I believe, and I did 8. So I was feeling a little better. I did my shorter runs throughout the week, and the next weekend I could only do 6.5. I felt like a mess. One day I felt like I could do it, the next I felt exhausted and weak. I really just didn't know what to expect.

The final week of training comes, and I completed all of my shorter runs/walks. Race day arrives, and I am FREAKING OUT. My longest run was 10 miles and over a month ago at this point, and I'm supposed to run 3.1 more than that.

I just tried to push the negative thoughts out of my mind, and you know what, if I needed to walk, I needed to walk. This had already been such a huge accomplishment, and I couldn't help that I got sick. I just needed to do the best I could, and that was enough.

So the race started, and I was running with my friend. Well, everyone was running together because it was packed and going really slow through the streets of Asbury Park. I actually didn't mind because one of my biggest fears was wearing myself out in the beginning. My friend wanted to go faster, so I told her to go on without me. 

I picked up my pace a little but still tried to keep it steady while not pushing myself too hard. I started to slowly pass person after person. The miles passed, and I really didn't feel tired. I knew I could keep going. I got past 10 miles and honestly felt surprisingly great. Some time after the mile 11 mark, I ran into my friend, and  I actually felt like I could go a little faster. So I did.

Mile 12 comes, and I'm thinking YAY only 1 mile left! I look up to where I know the end is, and it looks like 5 miles away. I started to feel exhausted and like I just pushed myself too hard too fast over the past mile or so because I knew it was coming to an end. 

So I actually started to slow it down. I know I know, there was only 1 mile left. But I really felt it was what my body needed to finish the race strong. My friend caught up to me, and we finished the last half mile or so really strong and together. It was actually amazing to cross the finish line with her!

Post-run thoughts were water and food, so I had plenty of each. We received medals and shirts, and then some other friends joined us to celebrate later on. My initial feeling was I'm never doing that again. But honestly, I was only sore for like a day or two. I'm not saying another half is definitely in my future, but I'm not saying it's not.

Overall, I had a really good experience. I learned a lot about myself and what I'm capable of. And most importantly, as cliche as it sounds, I learned to not give up on myself. I thought there was no way I'd be able to run that much, especially in the time I did with the issues I had during training, but I did. Listening to my body was SO key. During the training and the race, my body told me when to go when to stop and when to push harder. And it was right every time.