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.

I'm Running a Half Marathon?!

Growing up I seriously SUCKED at running. I couldn't even run a mile. I dreaded that time of year when we would have to run the mile in gym class. It was embarrassing, and I hated sweating. Really, I hated working out in general, but running was like the ultimate hell. 

College came, I gained the freshmen (at least) 15, and as a result I actually started to get into working out a bit. But all I really did was cardio, specifically the elliptical. Towards the end of college I started running with one of my roommates from time to time. The endurance I gained from the elliptical somewhat translated into running short distances. My heart could handle it, the legs not so much. But I built it up a little over time, and perhaps we ran a mile or two at a time. 

Post-college I joined a gym and started running on the treadmill here and there. I signed up for a couple of 5ks, never running the whole thing, but I probably could have. I could definitely run like 3 miles...on a treadmill.  

In the summer of 2014, I decided I wanted to really get into running. I don't know why exactly, but it was a challenge. It was something I had never really been able to do well. Plus it was a way to exercise without necessarily having to go to the gym. 

I started running outside every few days building up from 3 miles to 4 to 5 and improving my time. I really ran a lot that summer and fall. I tried to keep it going even as it got cold. I headed to the dreaded treadmill, but it got the best of me. I slowly started to avoid it, and fell of the bandwagon. Every so often over the past year or so (especially in nice weather) I would run. I could still do about 5 miles depending on sleep, eating, etc.

Over all of this time half marathons have come into my head. I've seen people sign up for them. I've thought, hey, maybe I could actually do that. But then I'd shove that idea right back where it came from. But one day I randomly got to talking with my friend, Jocelyn, who has actually run a half marathon before, and we threw the idea around. But then, in typical fashion, I avoided it.

Last week I turned 27, and I decided that this is the year I'm going to challenge myself. I texted my friend, and we actually signed up for a half marathon. I filled out the form, sent it in, and paid the money. There's no going back now. 

At first I was excited, and then the OH SHIT moment hit. How am I going to run 13.1 miles? Is that physically possible for me? I'm 8 weeks out and starting a 10 week training program 2 weeks late. Can I do this? What do I eat? Do I have to drink/eat while I run? What if I have to go to the bathroom? I start googling EVERYTHING which leads to more panic. And then I stop.

Breathe. I can do this. I couldn't even run a single mile, and now I can run 5+ at this point. I have 8 weeks which is basically 2 months. I can already run more than the max run on the first 2 weeks of training.

I went out for a run on Saturday, and ran 6 miles and felt like I could keep going. I CAN DO THIS. I think. I'm honestly still a bit panicked, but I think I might be able to actually do this. This is my first full week of training with 7 additional weeks to follow and then the big day. 

I'm nervous but excited. I just don't really know exactly what to expect or what I should do leading up to and during it, but I am all ears. I would love love LOVE to hear any advice, stories, anything about your experiences with half marathons, marathons, 5ks, running in general. Comments are SO welcome below, or feel free to shoot me a message!