As mentioned in the previous post, I would like to share a little about my experience of running a half marathon. Please keep in mind, I am in no way, shape, or form, trying to give advice on what to do and not to do when training for and running an half marathon. This event was just a bit of a major one for me and I would like to put it down in words.
First off, as I have probably said many times before, I am not a runner. In fact, I have always hated running… with a passion. I have tried to get into running at different times in my life, but it never really took. So the idea of marathon and half marathon running has always just been incredibly perplexing to me. I could never understand wanting to put your body through that kind of stress; however, some people just really do love running and I have always applauded them for their initiative and endurance.
My sister-in-law and her boyfriend, who were already signed up for the race, put the idea in my husband’s head that we should join them. When the idea was presented to me of running 13.1 miles, I dismissed it immediately. But after being asked several times, I could tell that this was something that my husband really wanted to attempt. I cringed, whined, and complained, but eventually I gave in.
We began by looking up different training programs, and after doing some searching and asking around, we settled on a program that a marathon-running friend from college suggested. The training started at 3 mile runs… which was asking a lot for my non-athletic body. However we had plenty of time to train, so in all honesty, we started off by training for the training. We ran 3 days a week for a month to comfortably get up to a 3 mile run. Once we were there, we were 12 weeks out from the half marathon and began the actual scheduled training.
Some training days were rougher than others, as we trained during the summer in incredibly humid weather with temperatures of 80-90 degrees. (Some of you Okies probably think that’s nothing, but seriously, the humidity makes it miserable!) On the days that we could, we would run early in the morning when it was a bit cooler, which made training so much more pleasant. The one particularly scary thing about our training was that the last long run – 1 week before the race – was 10 miles. So there was a pretty big jump from 10 to 13.1 miles. And as dreaded, I definitely felt that on race day.
The day of the race, I was extremely nervous, but felt confident that I would be able to get through it because we had been successful in our training up to that point. My husband and I had previously decided, that we wanted to attempt to run the entire race without stopping to walk. So with that in mind, we felt that we should not be concerned with our time, but try to keep a steady pace that would get us to the finish line in one piece.
The race started at 8:30 a.m. but we were told to get there about 2 hours before, which seemed a little like overkill but I’m glad we listened. We left our apartment at about 6:15 and finally parked around 8:00. What should have been a 15 minute drive turned into sitting in traffic for an hour and a half as thousands of us were being herded on base through the same gate.
It was kind of surreal to be there at the starting line getting ready to go, when we had been training for what seemed like forever. It was exciting and a bit overwhelming to be there with all the other runners waiting for the gun to go off. Once we finally got passed the starting line, I felt pretty good up until about mile 6 or 7. For some reason, around there I hit a bit of a wall. My knees, calves, and hips started aching, which usually happens, I just didn’t expect it to come some soon. I did not stop running though, and seemed to stay on pace. I was still doing okay until about mile 8 or 9 when there was a very intimidating hill that we had to trek up, which in my opinion… not the best time in the race to make the runners climb a big hill, just sayin. But once we made it past that, we soon came upon streets lined with people cheering us on, including a few personal friends who gave me a boost of confidence and energy that lasted a good mile.
The hardest part of the race for me was the last mile. I tried my best not to loose any momentum and to keep my pace, but it was extremely difficult. Especially when we made our final turn back on base and could see the finish line, but knew there was still another 1/2 -1/4 mile left to go. My husband had taken off around mile 8, but I was still with my sister-in-law and her boyfriend. They some how mustered up the energy to sprint to the finish, but I did not. I think the cheering crowd at the home stretch carried my tired little legs to the finish line, because I don’t know how I would have gotten there otherwise. Immediately when I crossed the finish line I broke down in tears. Which I knew I would do, because I’m a “major weeper.” I was just incredibly overwhelmed and exhausted; but also, I could not believe what I had just done. I probably looked as pathetic as I felt, but I couldn’t hold it back any longer (I had actually started to tear up several times during the race, but was able to control my emotions still at those points).
After bawling through the line to get my finishing medal, I found my sister-in-law, then my husband. He had gotten in about 4 minutes ahead of me. Although I had really wanted him to stay with me for the duration of the race, I was extremely proud of his energy and endurance. The 4 of us all accomplished something we hadn’t ever done before and my heart is still overflowing with pride for all of us. For the rest of that day, I just could not even believe what we had all just done.
And now for the million dollar question… would I ever run another one? I honestly can not answer that, because I do not know if I would or not. Pervious to this whole experience, I cannot count the number of times I had said I would never run a half or full marathon, and look where that got me. (It’s still a no on the full though… 26.2 miles is just ridiculous.) So currently, I’m not even thinking about what steps to take now that this experience is behind me. What I have contemplated on, is that fact that only by the grace of God was my non-athletic body able to run every single one of those 13.1 miles. Ultimately, I am glad that I agree to partake in the experience because of the profound sense of accomplishment that completing the race has made me feel.