Thursday, April 28, 2011

my first half marathon!


I disliked running in high school; it was hard because I wasn't in shape. During the year following my graduation from high school, a couple of different girls I was friends with (one at home, one when I was away at college) asked me to work out with them. That was motivating. Before my now-husband went to Basic Training I ran with him to prepare him for that. I remember that when we started it was a challenge to even run for two minutes, walk for one minute, run for two minutes, walk for one minute, etc.

Basically, I have wanted to run a half marathon since my husband really got into running during his first deployment and ran a half marathon in August 2006. I have been training for mine on and off since the end of last summer. The last race I participated in before the half marathon (13.1 miles) was a 6k (3.72 miles) six months ago. By that point the longest I had ever run was probably 7 miles. My 10 km race (6.2 miles) was two years before that.


In addition to a long run once a week (usually Monday), I usually ran two or three times a week for at least 30 minutes. I usually ran on the treadmill, either during L's nap or right when I woke up, if both kids were sleeping. For the long run, I did it outside when I could, with my husband watching the kids. I prefer running outside while listening to music, but it's kind of fun watching a movie while I run on our treadmill, and I like being able to look at my pace. A 9-and-a-half-minute mile is pretty comfortable for me, and I like sprinting for twenty or thirty seconds -- sometimes when I feel like I want to slow down I speed up instead. I always skip exercise on Sundays, and I probably always rested the day after a long run. On the other days that I didn't run, I would either 1) walk enough to warm up, and then do strength training exercises or yoga, or 2) not do any exercise, besides housework, of course.


Since November (when I started reading the book Eat to Live) I have been eating mainly leafy vegetables, other green vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. I've eaten meat, dairy and eggs only rarely. I drink water and non-dairy milks.

For dinner the night before the half marathon I ate pasta (the Pad Thai pictured here) -- I found out that runners are supposed to "carb load" soon before the race. In the morning I was up at 5:30 and followed the Medical Director's advice which was in the e-mail they sent to all participants: I drank about 16 ounces of water right away. At 6:00 (one hour before the race would start) I ate; I think it was just almond butter on whole wheat bread. I drank more water while my little family and I drove to the starting line.


I was excited and a little cold as we waited to start. It was pretty perfect weather, actually, not too sunny in the morning, and we got rained on, but not until 9:20. I liked hearing about the history of this marathon/half marathon. The number of participants has gone up each year -- this year over 1000 people ran the full marathon and over 4000 ran the half. I didn't know anybody around me and I didn't say much, but I listened to others chatting. Near the end I said hello to the three women from my neighborhood who I knew were going to be there running.  I was sad that I couldn't find them for a group picture when we were done (they finished before me . . . and one of them just had a baby 11 months ago!). My step-sister who was born the same year as me also ran the half, and we didn't find out until hours later that the other one was there! She did well, too.

So how did I do? I felt really good until my legs started to feel sore for about the last mile; I was still able to run some of that mile, though. I ran past my mom and younger sister, who were watching, about a minute before I finished; I found my husband and daughters a few minutes after. I had wanted my time to be 2:10 or less, because that would be a 10-minute mile (in my October race I averaged about 9:43 per mile). I am very happy with my time anyway: 2 hours and 16 minutes, which I suppose counts the time I spent waiting for and using a port-o-potty. It was a 10:24 pace according to the timing chip. I was faster than about 39% of all the half marathon runners, and faster than 41% of those in my age division. I did take fewer and shorter walking breaks than I did during my four or five training runs that were 10-12 miles long.

I think the next time I run a half marathon I will do a few things differently. I'll go to sleep earlier the night before. During the race I'll keep something like GU with me, not just a water bottle. I will do more stretching afterward. Also, I would love to run one with my husband running next to me.


Leave some love!