My First Half Marathon - What I Learned

Pre-Race

Before finding out we were pregnant with Samuel, I was training for my first half marathon, which was a huge feet for me. Back in 2014 when I first started running I couldn't even get two blocks down the road, let alone contemplate running 13.1 miles! So my first goal after he was born was to accomplish that milestone. After my 6 week postpartum check-up and getting the go ahead to start training again, I signed up for my first half marathon, the Gopher to Badger, running from Stillwater, MN across the border to Hudson, WI.

Those first few miles were HARD, and I'm not even kidding. Running only two miles and feeling like death was the saddest day of my life, for real. Knowing I had to start from the beginning and didn't even do good at all, was a slap in the face. Before I stopped running per doctor's orders I was up to 6 miles in my training, so not being able to even run 3 was terrible for me.

I had to pick myself up. I had to self motivate because I didn't have time to join a gym or the lovely group of Mom's on the Run again. Lawrence would get home from work and I would strap on my shoes and head out the door for a half hour of running for as far as I could go. Some days it was 2.5 miles, and some it was a little over 3. I slowly worked my way up to 4, and then 5, and eventually even 6. With each run I could feel myself getting stronger, more fit, my legs less wobbly, my knees happier and my hips tightening - but the latter in a good way. After pushing out a 7 lb baby, those hips really aren't what they should be. As they moved back into place it seemed easier and easier to run longer distances.

April - My Motivation :)

Then I needed to go further. I had to hit 8 miles. A friend told me about books on tape and then I found this awesome app from the library - Libby- to listen to free books. I found a novel, When The Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman, which turned into my heaven for long runs. I could easily zone out into the story, forget about the momentary pain in my legs, upper body and those darn hips, and run. I felt free. The stress melted off of me. Those sleepless nights are so worth it, but are so tiring that this half marathon training was harder than it should have been. But I pressed on - and I made it to a ten mile run.

Before the half, I ran two sets of ten miles to make sure my body could at least make it that far. I thought that an 3 extra miles wouldn't be so bad after 10. I was told that it should be fine to run only that and those extra 3, not even a 5k, would be pretty easy. I knew I could do it - but I didn't realize how hard those last 3 miles would be since I didn't actually run them. Looking in hind sight, I really wish I would have run at least 12 miles. FYI - your body will be better off to run at least a mile within the goal distance.

Race day arrived. My good friend and I woke up, went to Caribou and got coffee and bagels before the race. We met up with the other Mom's on the Run ladies to carpool, since over 1,100 people were signed up for this race and there were no shuttles back to the start.

The buzzer went. It was time to run! All this hard work was about to pay off. Surprisingly, miles 1, 2, and 3 flew by. Actually all of them up until mile 11 went awesome. I really didn't even notice the mile markers and they were gone before I knew what hit me. Mile 9 I had to stop for a potty break, which was very inconvenient but better than having a dreaded accident in the heat. I mean the weather was pretty perfect for the 7:30 start time, but the sun was merciless and the humidity seemed relentless.

That medal though!

I hit my wall. A little after mile 11 my body was pissed. My body did not want to keep going. My hands started to swell from the heat and the pounding my body was taking. But I had to push on. Without April, my running buddy who helped me train and answered my questions along the way, I know I could have made it, but she pushed me to be my best. As the clock ticked on and the miles dragged, my goal of 2:30:00 seemed almost impossible. As we hit the finish line chute, she took off it seemed, and I had to push to make my body cross that line. The clock said 2:28:35 as I ran across the finish. I did it!

You know the best thing about finishing this? My boys watched me cross. My 6 year old came up behind me crossing that line and I almost cried. It was the best feeling to be showing them that I can do something like this - so can they. Practice, push yourself, pace yourself, and love yourself. Goals like this that become accomplished make you feel like the best possible person you can be. All I can say now is - when's the next one?

Beat my goal!



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