… Last year, that is (in September 2015).
This time a year ago, I ran my first half marathon. What?? It’s actually a little crazy to think about now, seeing as I haven’t done any running since then (I’ll get to that), but I checked off a half marathon from my goals list.
I started 2015 not very happy with my health. I had put on weight (again), my blood pressure was officially high, and I was miserable. Thankfully, my friend Danielle asked if I wanted to take a barre class with her on Saturday mornings and I jumped at the chance.
Danielle and I were chatting one day before class, and she posed an interesting question to me — On a scale of 1 to 10, how interested was I in running a half marathon? At the time, I think I was at a 7. I hadn’t been running since the previous summer, so I knew I’d have some prep work to do. But I also realized that it was a door opening — it was now or never. With that, we were set to run the 2015 Discover Whitewater Series Half Marathon.
Like I said, I hadn’t been running and needed to prepare for actual training for the half. As the snow started melting in March, I got out for morning runs with Bailey following the Pooch to 5K program. I knew I didn’t have a full 12 weeks to prepare, but I got myself far enough in the program to begin training runs with Danielle. I loved my morning runs with Bailey, though — She makes a great running partner!
Danielle and I decided to attack training in two phases. We started by following a 10K training plan which flowed right into a half marathon training plan. In both cases, we followed Hal Higdon programs — the 10K Novice Training Program and Half Marathon Novice 1 Training Program. Based on where we ended the 10K program, we shaved off the first two weeks of the half marathon plan.
Honestly, I really enjoyed the training. I found a new sweet spot distance — 4-mile runs were my jam. I still remember the day we ran 8 miles (4 weeks before the race) — I couldn’t stop smiling that whole day! The 9-mile training run, on the other hand, sucked. But our final long run of 10 miles went very well, so I went into race day feeling confident.
I got to the high school about an hour before the race started. Danielle and I walked around the building, did our warm-ups, and just mentally prepared. After months of training, the nerves finally kicked in that morning.
We started our race towards the back of the pack. We were training around an 11:30/mile pace (if memory serves). But when the race began, we made a classic race day mistake — we took off too fast. Since we had trained along the race route all summer, I realized just how fast we were going when we hit the 1-mile mark. Unfortunately, my attempts to slow our group’s pace didn’t work.
The wheels finally started to come off after the 6-mile mark.
By the halfway point in the race, the sun was really heating things up — and there is absolutely no shade on the second half of this race route. Combined with our too-quick pace, I started to really struggle. My legs felt like lead. It was horrible. My running partners slowly started pulling away from me around the 7-mile mark, and there was no way I could keep up. And because the plan was to run together for the whole distance, I didn’t bring headphones and music for backup motivation. Seriously, I wanted to cry. Just before the 8-mile mark, I stopped to walk.
And I felt defeated. My only goal for my first half marathon was to finish without walking. And I didn’t do it.
For the next 5.1 miles, I trudged on alone, taking frequent walk breaks. The problem with walking is that my legs felt worse when I tried to run again. But I couldn’t help it. The lack of shade and most daunting hills on the course added to the challenge.
I was so happy to see the high school looming in the distance. But then I remembered my least favorite thing about the course — I had to run to the back of the school and do a 3/4 lap of the track to reach the finish line. I was just ready to be done! As I approached the crowd gathering near the post-race party tent, a familiar face appeared — our barre instructor, Ivy! She ran right by my side to get me to the track. I am so grateful for her support!
And after just 3/4 of a lap around the track, it was all over.
It felt SO good to be done. My crew was waiting for me …
I spent the rest of the day laying on the couch waiting for the post-half pain to kick in (which it did). While my legs were tired and sore, the worst pain was coming from my right knee. The knee had started to bother in the last month of training, and now it was kaput.
After a two-week break, I was hoping to get back to the morning runs with Danielle that I loved. Unfortunately, my knee had other plans. My first time back out, I had to cut my run short due to knee pain. Turns out, my kneecap was pulling to the right and sitting over thinning cartilage. For the record, bone rubbing over bone is not fun. Thanks to some physical therapy, my knee is no longer giving me troubles. However, I haven’t tried running since.
So, would I run another half marathon? Probably not. Will I get back to running again? I hope so. I think I know where I made mistakes along the road to this half marathon — I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been going into training, and I was carrying an extra 20 or so pounds of weight which couldn’t have been kind to my joints. But getting some weight off, I’d love to get back out there. I can see more 5Ks and maybe some 10Ks in my future.
I’m eternally grateful for the friends and family that provided support as I worked towards my half marathon goal. And with this year’s race day here, I want to wish all the runners the best of luck in achieving theirs!
P.S. I almost forgot my time — I finished in 2:35:03, an 11:50/mile pace.