Happy Wednesday! I’m so excited to share another Heart-to-Heart Hump Day with you…this time, featuring my sisters Alicia and Alexa! A & A are twins who completed their very first half-marathon together on Sunday! Read all about their journey to the finish line and see their advice for getting started.
Congratulations on completing your first half-marathon! How does it feel?
Alexa: After planning for this race for over a year, it feels weird to be done! The race was honestly harder than I thought. There were so many people, I had a hard time getting into a running groove! During training I was able to so this made the first half of the race feel much longer! I was relieved to finally hit the double digit mile markers and knew I was in the final stretch. Once I accepted the fact that I wasn’t going to get a fantastic time, I was really able to enjoy the moment which was really important! We were running through Disney World after all! It was awesome to run through Magic Kingdom with no one on the rides and see characters (like Anna, Elsa, Cinderella and of course the power couple Mickey and Minnie to name a few) cheering us on the sidelines! Most of our training was done during the winter on the east coast so the weather was much different than what we were use to. We knew that going in but I really felt it on race day especially since we started much later than we expected. However, we couldn’t have asked for a better morning! Humidity was low and the temperature was in the 50s. We were in the last corral (in hindsight, it would have made a huge difference to submit proof of time so we could have been with runners going the same pace) so we didn’t start until a whole hour after the official start time. Overall it was a great experience and I’m so glad I did it. For years, I’ve told myself I’m not a runner so proving myself wrong was a big deal.
Alicia: Race day came up so fast, it’s surreal that it is over. The beginning of the race felt so easy. I felt good the first half of the race and that was in part due to the excitement of everything that was happening. On this course the halfway point was right after we ran through Magic Kingdom. This was hard since after the excitement of running through the park there really wasn’t much happening for a while after that. I hit a bit of a rough patch closer to the end of the race where it felt like there was so much more to go. This is where all the training began to kick in. I reminded myself that I trained for this and was more than capable of completing the race. The last two miles were easy with the excitement of the crowds and knowing that the finish line was so close. In all honesty I thought it would be easier than it was but I’m glad I did it.
When and how did you decide to go after this big goal? What went into making the decision?
Alexa: We made the decision a little over a year ago. I remember telling people at Christmas in 2015 but it was too late to do the Disney princess half marathon in 2016. Many of our direct family members have always been runners and have done marathons and half marathons so it’s always been something that my family does. We wanted to find a way to get into shape and running seemed to stand out in our minds. A half marathon seemed out of reach just enough so that we would really have to work for it but not impossible!
Where was the race? What made you choose to do this particular race for your first?
We did the Disney Princess Half Marathon at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fl. The race started at Epcot and we ran to Magic Kingdom then back to Epcot! Alicia was actually the one who suggested this particular race.
Alicia: Being a big fan of Disney I thought doing one of their runs would be fun. I picked the Princess Half Marathon because I liked the theme of Princesses and that mostly women run the race. I liked that the course ran through both Epcot and Magic Kingdom. I also thought running in Florida would be nice since then the course would be generally flat. The Disney run is a fun one since so many people dress up in crazy costumes and even though we did not really dress up it was cool to see all the creativity that went into other people’s outfits. This made me think that this run isn’t as serious as some of the others and would be a great first half marathon race.
Was there a particular training plan or formula that you used to prepare?
When we signed up for the race back in July, Disney actually had a training plan on their website. It worked out really well for us because during the weekdays the plan had us running 30 minutes and we did long runs every other weekend. The longest we ran before race day was 12 miles which really helped us mentally. Knowing that we ran that far before really helped us get through the double digit miles and once we hit 12, it was only 1.1 miles left – piece of cake (especially since we were running around Epcot at this point!)
Since we weren’t really running before we embarked on this journey, before the training plan started we worked on running for 3 miles straight, three days a week. We worked our way up to that by doing running-walking intervals. Up until the summer months and before the training plan started in the fall, we tried adding a mile to our weekend run. The summer was really hot and humid so we just ran three miles three times a week.
Alicia: For me it helped a lot to have a running buddy to help keep me motivated. It was good for us since we both run generally at the same pace so while training we could help motivate each other. I recommend if possible to try to find a friend to run with. Also I think it would have helped to run a few more races before race day so you are use to running with a lot of people around you. We only ran one race during our training.
Alexa: Just start. When we first decided to do this race, we were running for two minutes then walking for one so we really started from scratch! On race day we only walked when we needed water which proves how amazing and relatively quickly your body can change! Signing up for the half marathon and ‘putting my money where my mouth is’ also helped keep me motivated once the winter months came and going for long runs didn’t seem appealing. I would also stress how important those long runs are, mentally and physically. Just keep going even if you have a bad run, it gets better!
What was your biggest takeaway from this experience? What did you learn about yourself?
Alicia: Training for a half marathon requires a lot of time and dedication since you have to go on all these runs before the race. There were a few times where I didn’t want to go running since the weather wasn’t ideal. I learned that if I set a huge goal I can work through the roadblocks to complete it.
Alexa: The biggest takeaway for me is that you can do anything that you set your mind to in life. For a while, I just told myself that I’m not a runner even though it was always something I wanted to do – It was just too hard. It wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning. We did most of our runs in the morning before work so there was plenty of mornings where my bed was just so warm and inviting but I got up and ran. Eventually my body got more used to those early wake up calls and my endurance improved so I really started to enjoy this time for myself before I started my day.
Have you been bitten by the running bug? What’s next for you?
Alicia: I am more of a runner now and I plan to keep it up but for now I am going to take a break from the long distance runs. I signed up for barre class in my area and I’m excited to try that.
Alexa: I’m definitely going to keep running but I’m excited to try other workouts as well. I want to improve my strength training routine which I find more intimidating than running! No marathons or half marathons for now but I’m interested in doing some 5ks or 10ks so I can get use to racing. As for non-running goals, I’m starting a new job so I’m excited to set some goals there and get settled in there.
Just for fun, what are three things in life that you’re loving right now?
- Tea – I’ve been loving green tea especially if it’s infused with fruit (mango, peach, blueberries, you name it!). I’ve been drinking it everyday in these colder months.
- House of Cards – I know I’m really late to the party but I just recently got into this show and I love it! We are on the last season and I’m looking forward to the new season coming out in May!
- Ryan Follese EP – he was formerly the lead singer of Hot Chelle Rae but I love love love his new EP. Its pop with a country twist to it. It’s just a fun EP and I’m excited to see if he releases anything else.
- My Fitbit – I’m loving the hourly reminders to get up and move while sitting at work and when I get home every day.
- Series of Unfortunate Events- I read all of the books when I was younger so when Netflix released the series featuring Neil Patrick Harris, I was excited!
- The warmer weather! The winter seems to be over and we are enjoying some warmer days. I love spring weather!
Thanks for joining me ladies, and congratulations on your finish!
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