Monday, November 25, 2013

Run with City - a Half Marathon Adventure

Run with City? Get it? Be-because the blog is...never mind.

Anyway, as most of our loyal readers know (and they know because they follow our facebook page and also happen to be members of our family - hi guys, love you!) I trained for a subsequently participated in my first half-marathon earlier this month.

I received a text from my best friend in July, while Andrew and I were out hiking around Johnson Shut-ins and the Elephant Rocks State Parks. She basically said "want to do a half-marathon in November?" and I said "sure". I wish the story for how I came to race was more inspirational, but that's pretty much it. I decided if I was going to run 13.1 miles, I'd need a rigorous training schedule.

Observation 1) Rigorous training schedules are great! Actually sticking to them - a little harder than previously thought.

I had gotten back into running, and actually credit running for helping me lose 30 pounds after the disastrous last two semesters at college where I had unfettered access to a cheap burrito place. I actually have about 30 stubborn pounds that still need to go, and this new plan had gotten me amped up with the hope that I'd get back on track. However, someone pointed out to me the caveat of running a lot is that often times people overcompensate eating, and thus no progress is made (at least initially). I definitely have an issue with my eating, I've discovered, and found that I need to reign it in because nope, I definitely did not lose any weight at all in the four months I had to train. Worse than the overcompensation was following the schedule - if I was going to go from run/walking 3 miles to run/walking 13.1 miles in four months, I had a lot of work to do. The first few weeks weren't that bad - I struggled, but I felt so proud of myself as I started hitting major milestones - 5 miles, 6 miles, 7 miles. Then life got busier, the days got shorter, and I could no longer get up at 6:00 to run in the cool early mornings before work at the zoo. I made a lot of excuses to not run because I had to work two of my three jobs that day, or it was just too dark out, or I was too tired. The farthest I ran before the actual marathon was 8.5 miles.

Observation 2) Support from family and friends makes a world of difference. Especially when said family is willing to drag you off the race route if need be.

Throughout my adventures in running, I've been blessed to have the feedback of several friends who are actually good at running. Like, when these people run, they're like people out of fitness magazines are allergy medication commercials where they show how less sneezing means you can do more meaningful stuff, like run on the beach all pretty-like. Their advice was invaluable, and their genuine support for a novice meant a lot to me. My other friends also kept cheering me on, and that made it really important to me to keep training, despite my anxieties that I'd fail and probably die somehow, and keep going. I didn't want to let anyone down, after all! The night before the race, I went to dinner with mom and dad and my brothers. We discussed logistics - where they could see me on the route, what time they should be at the finish line, whether or not they thought they could carry me away via stretcher.

Observation 3) Race day jitters are definitely a thing, even if you aren't actually competing.

The day of the race came, and I made my way to the center where we'd all line up, all 1000 some participants. I got there super early because I didn't want to be late and what if it took me 45 minutes to find a parking spot? Turns out I found a spot right away and spent the next 44 minutes watching expert runners warm up and tried not to look like a goof who didn't know what she was doing. "OMG, their numbers are pinned on so neatly - mine's already wrinkled. Too much slack in the safety pins - I look like a total dork!" "Those guys are drinking coffee. Should I be drinking coffee? Will it give me energy? Or are they drinking it because it's cold outside? Did I dress appropriately? That guy is in shorts - CLEARLY I should have also worn shorts!" By the time my friend, her sister, her husband, and I met up with our other friend, things had calmed down considerably. I wasn't even too worried when we lined up (in the back, we're realists).

Then...the gun went off. Or buzzer. I actually don't remember what signaled the start of the race, I just kind of started jogging when the people in front of us started jogging. I felt really good the first four miles - I finished 3 miles in about 31 minutes, and looked pretty good into mile 4. It was a lot of fun seeing all these people run alongside us! However....

Observation 4) You WILL hit the wall, and it will be at the least glamorous moment possible 

I've never done something like this before. I had no idea what to expect. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn't think I'd be totally ready to walk away (figuratively) by mile 7. And I was grumpy. Really, really grumpy. People were already passing me and turning around and running past me the other direction by the time I reached mile 7, and I had hit the wall big time. I had to go down a hill, around the outdoor amphitheater, and back up the hill to start the run back towards the start/finish line, and my feet hurt and I was out of energy and I just wanted to punch everyone in their stupid heads. Yeah, I was not in a good place. Then I saw, with abject horror, my father with the video camera. The last time I was face to face with him surprised in this manner was when I had just gotten off a 14 hour flight from Japan in which I hadn't slept or moved from my seat at all and felt like death and he filmed me coming out of the gate looking like absolute hell. This was way worse. My father was filming me hitting the wall big time. But he was cheering for me, and so were my mom and my brothers, and I felt encouraged again. I could do this. I'd see them again at the finish line, and that time, I'd be running with determination.

My friend's husband and sister met me two miles down the route - I had left my friends behind early on in the race because one of them had a stress fracture and had to take it easy. Turns out I'm a terrible friend, though, and my little leggies were just too antsy to keep her pace. After a refueling of water and some gu chomp thingies I had gotten to help keep me running, I was back on track to finishing. I walked. A lot. I'm not going to lie. Most of the last 5 miles was easily walking. By the time I reached mile 12, though, I was ready to finish strong. I wasn't the last person in the race, though the crowd had thinned out considerably, and I figured that as long as cars weren't right behind me honking for me to get out of the way, then I'd be fine. It was uplifting to see the volunteers cheering on every runner, every time, no matter how far behind the pack we were. There were even kids around mile 11 that were giving out high fives and cheering for us to keep going. It was like something out of a Hallmark movie.

Anyway, mile 12- I geared up again and gave it all I had. I eventually saw Andrew standing not too far away from me, and I was so happy to see him wave and smile. Apparently he was the look-out and reported back to my parents and other brother that I was nearing the finish. This was it - I was going to finish my first half-marathon! I crossed the finish line, and finished in a time of something like 2:42:26.

Observation 5) You probably shouldn't eat a bunch of junk food immediately after running 13 miles

No, I was okay with the big burger, fries, and milkshake I had, but it's just sound advice in general I think. I had a hard time walking for the next two days, though.

That was my first race, though, and hopefully not my last. I'd like to say I've been on the ball with running and my diet, but I definitely have areas that need improvement. Still, I'll let you know how race #2 goes!


  1. Because this makes you look like more of a badass, the camping trip was in August, not July.

  2. It WAS in August. I'm not sure why I typed July. Good catch!