Happy Monday! I’m writing to you today with the strange combination of a runner’s high AND all the post-race blues. This weekend I ran the San Diego Holiday Half Marathon and I’m excited to share some of my favorite moments with you. But first…three reasons why everyone (including you!) should and can run a half-marathon. 🙂
I was inspired to share these with you because of my friend Jill. Our friend Mary Kathleen and I finally convinced her to run her first half-marathon…and she signed up for one in April! Jill doubted for so long whether or not she could actually do it. She labeled herself “not a runner” before she even tried – but now she’s learning that she absolutely is strong enough, and that her body and mind are capable of more than she knows. I’m so proud of her courage for going after it — and if you’re on the fence, I hope to instill that same courage in you. Jill can do this. You can do this. And here’s why:
- The distance is possible. If you’ve run a 5k before…or heck, even a mile…you can totally run 13.1. I promise you, you can! The half-marathon is the perfect distance because it challenges your mental and physical strength and pushes you to a new level…but the distance isn’t so far out of reach. As long as you give yourself plenty of time to train, commit to a plan, and run up to 9 miles beforehand (I know that sounds like a lot now – but once you’re training, it’ll be nothing for you!), you’ll be golden on race day. The excitement of the crowds, your adrenaline, and the sheer excitement of running your first major distance race will sustain you through to the finish for those last few miles.
- Build your confidence. Who could use a little more confidence in their life? (Raising my hand right along with you.) Once you conquer 13.1, daily tasks will seem so simple, and by the time you reach the finish line, you’ll realize you are so much stronger and tougher than you thought you were. Really, what can’t you do now?
- You need to do this for YOU. Don’t run a half-marathon (or do anything, really) solely to impress someone else or to prove something for the naysayers in your life. Do this for yourself. Do this to silence the negativity in your own mind – not from those around you. This goal and this accomplishment is yours and yours alone. As my all-time favorite runner and human Meb Keflezighi puts it: “Most of us have enough areas in our lives where we have to meet others’ expectations. Let your running be about your own hopes and dreams.”
If you want to get into running or have been a runner for sometime and are ready to go the distance…let’s chat! I am by no means an expert (you’ll read about my weaknesses below :), but I do love the sport and can point you in the direction of some wonderful resources to get you started. And I will also provide constant encouragement and not let you talk yourself out of going after these big, beautiful goals!
And on to the recap of yesterday’s race…
The Expo and Swag
We had a Christmas Extravaganza at our dear friends’ house during the day (so hard to resist ALL OF THE COOKIES!), and headed out to the expo at Road Runner afterwards. This is one of the smaller local races of the year (about 4,000 people), so it was a teeny tiny expo and not the big convention center-type. I loved the intimacy of it.
For the very affordable race entry fee, I was surprised with all of the great swag we scored – including a long-sleeve and hooded wicking shirt, a high quality backpack, and homemade knitted gloves (so thoughtful since it was FREEZING when we hit the starting line – and I never thought I would need gloves in SD #rookiemistake).
The course was a straight path from Rancho Penasquitos to Torrey Pines State Park (a beautiful seaside finish!). The majority of the race was along the 56 Bike Path – so it was a little strange running in nothing but a straight line the whole time, and parallel with cars zooming on the highway. But it was something different, and being able to finish on the beach was totally worth it.
I really, really loved this race and will definitely be back next year – but it was unlike any road race I had over done before because there were hardly any spectators, and zero music! It was pretty quiet and mellow, and we were isolated from people or passerbys on the street – not the normal race day energy and cowbells that the big city races have. At first, I thought I would hate the quiet – but it ended up being so peaceful and enjoyable. I loved being able to strike up a conversation with strangers, receiving encouragement from others as we charged up the hills, and I actually spent a lot of time in prayer (mostly for the strength to finish), and thought about some running and personal goals for 2017. To my surprise, the race was refreshing for my soul…and only a little painful for the body. (I hate you, hip flexors.)
Sadly, I did not meet my goal for this race. That was the only downside. I aimed to finish in under 2 hours, and I was thinking my chances of actually doing that were about 50/50 heading into the race. For the first seven miles, I did really well and ran somewhere around 8:35/8:45s, managing to stay with (and even ahead of!) the 1:55 pace group. I hit 27:39 for my 5k time and 55:19 for my 10k, so I was right on target with my goal pace and happily expected to finish under 2 hours. But around mile 9, something awful happened – I’m still not sure what – and I just shut down. I felt like I literally had nothing left and at that point couldn’t even fathom how I had ran a marathon before, let alone finished halves before. This kind of defeat and exhaustion hadn’t happened to me in a race before, and it really crushed my spirit at first. Perhaps I went out too fast, but I felt really comfortable and strong for those first 7. But then I felt so weak, mentally and physically, and ended up getting a little sick at mile 10. So strange.
My pace dropped drastically and I ended up finishing in 2:07. I wasn’t too upset with this time – considering I had taken a year off of running and that 2:06:40 is my personal best…and I refused to wallow about it for too long.
I felt like I was very consistent with hydration and nutrition in preparation for the race, so I want to chalk this up to not being as disciplined as I should have been throughout my training cycle. Motivation to train faster next time!
- Hearing one woman say to another “I haven’t had a toenail in five years!” I laughed so hard. The struggle is real.
- Being surprised by Chad cheering at mile 8 (we didn’t think he would be able to find a way to jump on the bike path!) and having him run by my side for a little bit. He is fantastic encourager when my mind is failing me, both in races and in real life.
- All of the Buddy The Elf motivational signs at each mile marker.
- Seeing my friends from the Rock Runners volunteering at a water station.
- AMAZING men and women from the San Diego Rescue Mission (in partnership with Up and Running Again) finishing their first half-marathon after years of addiction and homelessness! SO awesome.
- Great post-race snacks and wrapping up in my first space blanket! (It’s the little things.)
After the race, we got sandwiches at my favorite place, Board and Brew, and then we enjoyed a 3 hour nap (hey, 4:30 a.m. wake up calls are rough on both of us), took Chase to the dog park, grocery shopped, and went to church. A perfect Sunday in my book. Well, minus the Eagles losing by one point…but we won’t go there.
Thanks for a fun day, USA Endurance Events! I can’t wait to be back next year…this time running well under 2 hours. 😉
Let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. – Hebrews 12:1-2